Mining community advocates against economic marginalisation
SHURUGWI villagers have vowed to fight for socio-economic and environmental justice in the communities where mining activities are taking place.
This commitment came after a community development meeting organised by Midlands Natural Resources Agenda Trust (MINARA) in Chief Nhema area where veteran Human Rights Lawyer and director of Zimbabwe’s Centre for Natural Resource Governance, Farai Maguwu was the guest of honour.
Maguwu said it is his duty to point out and discuss the policy implications for national government and to suggest, recommend and authorities to take certain and definite measures that will promote absolute community development.
“Mining activities by both Anglo American and mostly Chinese companies in various parts of the country have had serious impacts on the local environment, but you, the people affected have largely suffered in silence.
“It is therefore our duty as NGOs and Human Rights Lawyers to see that through these meetings, together we can make extractive industries ensure better livelihood for the communities,” said Maguwu.
Speaking at the same meeting, MINARA, Coordinator, Gideon Magadzire echoed the same sentiments of advocating for a broad-based socio-economic empowerment of mining affected communities.
“Our constitution is clear on fundamental rights that the citizens have, and these include environmental and cultural rights. Taking this into account, the community has the right to say ‘no’ to destructive and unsustainable development and that right should be respected by those who are in authority,” Magadzire said.
“We have seen in other areas that investment by the Chinese does not benefit people in areas they are operating in. The Chinese investors bring their own labour and they bring their own equipment.”
He said it was wrong for an investor to evict innocent people after being granted mining rights.
“If mining is supposed to benefit the country, why would over 20,000 people be displaced to pave way for foreign investors like what happened in April this year, where scores of villagers in Domboshava survived eviction after a Chinese quarry miner took over a mountain in the area where it intends to start mining operations.
A villager, Nobert Gondogwe also castigated scrupulous investors whom he said take the minerals and the profits outside the country at the expense of locals after heavily damaging the environment.
“This meeting taught me a lesson, we have always been thinking about it this advocacy but we didn’t know how to go about it. This serves as an eye opener.
“Now we know that there is need for transparent leadership in our mining communities. I learnt that this can only be achieved through straight talk, openness and accountability,” he said adding that they are willing to and able to take up the fight around the issues that affect them.