Villagers make living from bat guano … Prominent pastor ‘hijacks’ project

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ZHOMBE – Villagers at Empress Mine in Zhombe under Chief Samambwa have discovered a “natural
wonder” in the form of Mabura Cave where they are generating income by selling bat droppings
used as manure and fertilizer.
Villagers, who had formed a corporative, have for the past three months been extracting bat guano
and selling it as fertiliser and manure earning the community a decent living.
Bat guano is rich in nutrients and it is also used as gunpowder because of its potassium-nitrate
content.
The project has since attracted an investor from Botswana, Organic Company, which is in the
process of registering the project with the Mines and Mining Development Ministry and the
Environment Management Agency (EMA).
Kwekwe District Development Coordinator Fortune Mupungu said he was not aware of the bat
guano project in Zhombe and referred our news crew to Zibagwe Rural Council Chief Executive
Officer Farayi Machaya, who however, did not pick up calls from The Times.
“If there is such a project in Empress Mine, it will indeed bring about development in the area but
the Zibagwe RDC CEO is the right person to comment as he is in charge of development and
devolution in that area,” said the Kwekwe DDC.
One of the cooperative members, told The Times that they discovered the cave three months ago
and have been extracting bat droppings for sale to those who manufacture fertiliser and as manure
for local villagers.
“We have been extracting bat droppings from the cave for the past three months. We were selling
three buckets which fill up a 50kg sack for US$5. We had customers from Zhombe and other towns,”
said a member of the cooperative identified as Mr Banda.
The villagers claimed that they have managed to extract over 40 tonnes of bat guano which is still in
the cave.
The discovery of the Mabura Cave has also attracted a Harare based company which allegedly
hijacked the project a fortnight ago much to the chagrin of the community.
Villagers have since appealed to the authorities to intervene and give them back the cave.
They allegedly accused a prominent pentecostal church leader (name supplied) for allegedly sending
his people to take over the cave after being granted permission by a traditional leader.
Villagers claimed that the church leader only paid US$1 000 for 14 tonnes of bat guano which they
had extracted and each member of the corporative got about US$60 each as the other money was
used to pay the transporter.

“The invasion of the cave came at a time when we had managed to get an investor from Botswana
who has a company called Organic Company which had shown interest in producing fertiliser here in
Zimbabwe.
“The investor had shown interest in sponsoring the villagers by providing equipment and hiring of
transport to ferry the bat guano. Two weeks ago, the investor who was in the process of sorting out
his documents, was booted away and his equipment confiscated by the church leader who claimed
that he had been given the blessings to extract bat guano by a local traditional leader,” said another
member of the Mabura Cave Cooperative.
“We heard that the traditional leader was paid US$1 000 and the church leader was given the
powers to come and take over the cave.”
He said workers of the church leader have since returned to Harare after they failed to produce valid
documents. They allegedly ordered the villagers to stay off the cave.
They said extraction of bat guano is dangerous as it would be dark in the cave, without enough
ventilation and people risk being attacked by bats when using torches.

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