Communities in black granite mining areas in Mutoko North constituency of Zimbabwe are fuming over lack of empowerment from on-going black granite mining concessions leased by some foreign and local companies.
Instead, the communities say, the mining companies have brought in a plethora of problems including environmental catastrophes.
A team of Zimbabwean journalists recently had a tour of the constituency to assess on-going granite mining projects and how they are playing a part in improving the livelihoods of the local communities.
The tour was facilitated by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Organization (ZELA) and Actionaid Zimbabwe, which is part of a global ActionAid International family working with poor and excluded people, communities, associates and partners in more than 43 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.
According to Thomas Tarwirei, Chairperson of Mutoko North Development Trust advisory body, black granite mining has been going on in the area since 1972 and the local communities are still yearning to get support to improve their livelihoods.
“We are having a lot of problems from the mining companies which include leaving pits unfilled. This is posing a threat to people and livestock. For instance on 26 November 2013, an 8 year old kid called Thelma fell into one of the pits and died,” Tarwirei said.
Members of the community highlighted a lot of challenges which are resultant of the on-going mining projects.
Mrs Chiripanyanga from the community said there are lack of employment opportunities, no constant water supply and there is a need for community boreholes. The companies are accused of not carrying out Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.
She said the companies promised in 2012 to drill boreholes but this has not been done including dam construction.
“We are asking for construction of community facilities like a hospital, minimization of pollution, just to mention a few,” she said.
Brian Jakarasi said that some members of the community are dying in craters being created during the mining processes.
“The affected have received no compensation out of the mining activities and even our schools, houses and roads are getting dilapidated due to trucks which pass through the roads carrying the minerals,” Jakarasi said.
Veronica Gundu, a representative of ZELA said that her organization will collaborate with the Mutoko North Development Trust to conduct grassroots meetings with members of the communities to come up with solutions to the problems affecting them.
“ZELA will organize meetings with the mining companies so that they work on improving workers rights and empowering the communities. We hope to also invite government representatives to address the issues,” Gundu said.