Hurungwe– Villagers in Hurungwe Rural district Ward 26 are at loggerheads with Chinese investors operating under Thosmart Investments and operating Nyaodza graphite mine with villagers accusing them of looting and abusing employees.
The Chinese nationals are also accused of are operating without a licence, the Mail and Telegraph has learnt.
Villagers allege that the Chine investors partnered with a local businessman Thomas Chidzomba and when they initially came in they said they were exploring and sampling the site but it turns out the graphite ‘samples’ are actually being sold.
The graphite mine is situated about 85 kilometers west of Karoi town under Chief Nematombo, within Hurungwe West constituency.
It is within a 25-hectare plot, Hurungwe Rural district Ward 26.
The mine kicked off its operations in May 2018 employing 15 general hand workers and has delivered over 300 tonnes of graphite ore as part of ‘sampling’
“This mine is another looting exercise ,when they came they said they were sampling and it was just exploration but they are making profits and no development has been done to benefit us the locals,” said an irate villager who refused to be named.
Mashonaland West resident minister Hon.Mary Mliswa’s intervention yielded no positive results despite of the environmental disaster that is likely to ‘explode’.
Mine foreman Trust Makiyi (46) confirmed Mliswa’s visit .
“It is true Hon Mliswa came here and said that the mine must be closed until it met stipulated standards,”
Mliswa told the Mail and Telegraph that she had no intention of closing the mine but she was merely fighting for the justice of the workers.
“I have tried to engage Thomast Investment as some workers complained of a chest infection because of no protective clothing or masks.
“Generally, the community is not happy at all with that mining as it is not adding value to their community but destroying it. If you have not secured the mining site that the residue will not spill into the nearby water where cattle drink and will be infected. It is true that there is no clinic at the site or even a medical aid kit incase a worker get hurts,” said Mliswa in a written response.
She added that she communicated with Mr Hua and Steve the Chinese businessmen who are partners in that project and they agreed that all that needs to be sorted out before operations beginning will be dealt with first.
“Villagers at Chingurunguru and Nyaodza do not want operations in that area until they are satisfied that this not a looting spree. Miners must rectify all that needs to be done before they proceed with the operations they are human beings not animals. I will fight for their rights,” she added.
Mliswa also requested to see the company name and Directors and CR2 (shareholding structure) and health report, tax clearance certificate, EMA certificate for the site.
“I am still yet to see their mining licence for that site in order for us to map a way forward for the good of the community,” said Mliswa.
She said, ‘How can I just stand by and watch such activities happening in a community? The young men who were working there are desperate for money and they are willing to risk their health. When I went there, they were relieved and began to complain about their working conditions,’
But the local partner Chidzomba vowed that he will continue to operate as he has legitimate documents for operations.
“We are a registered company and no individual will stop us.”
“If workers are not happy why go to Mliswa without talking to us as management so that we can improve working relationship than to misinform anyone who is not part of the management?,” said Chidzomba.
Mliswa said she will ensure that the company embark on projects that are beneficial to the community and not just plunder resources.
“Villagers working at the mine should not be taken for granted. Management must get medicals for them and you will feel sorry for them. I stand guided and have asked that things should be done transparently and above board. Chinese are taking advantage of poor communities. We all want development for Hurungwe West not people to come and plunder what is in Hurungwe without adding value to the community,” said Mliswa
She said the management must cater for workers needs and also operate with necessary and required paperwork.
The villagers accused the Chinese investors for bribing the traditional leaders.
Village headman Cosmas Nyamhundi Mushinyi (56) said the chief of the area Chief Nematombo gave blessing to the project.
“We have invited several Government officials including those from Environment Management Agency, Hurungwe Rural District Council coming here to inspect the site and the chief was also present , we all agreed that it was a good project,” said the headman .