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Chinese miners clash with Insiza villagers

Chinese miners

A row has erupted between Insiza Ward Two villagers and Chinese miners operating along Insiza River and Silalatshani Dam in Matabeleland South.

Villagers raised fears that the mining activities were causing siltation and contaminating water bodies.

The Chinese miners resurfaced recently after years of absence, it was established.

They had previously conducted mining activities along the same river when Andrew Langa and  Malaki Nkomo were Zanu PF legislators for Insiza North and South respectively.

The villagers accuse the local traditional leadership of clandestinely bringing the Chinese miners in return for bribes.

The villagers raised their concerns over the presence of Chinese miners in a discussion on their virtual group named Insiza North and South.

"These Chinese came during Langa and Nkomo's time and were forced to abandon their activities by soldiers deployed from Mbalabala. They have returned again and some leaders are involved in this activity," said a villager.

Another villager said they were never consulted about the Chinese mining operations.

"We are rising up as villagers to say no to these miners and we will not accept any one intruding into our area to destroy the environment along our major source of water — Insiza River," said the villager.

"We must learn from some Mashonaland villagers who resisted the government's instructions to vacate the area to allow the Chinese to conduct a project. 

“But here in Matabeleland, there are sell-outs who go around getting crumbs from the Chinese and this causes confusion and makes our efforts futile.

"We all need to have one voice as a community to succeed in what we want."

Another villager quoted section of the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05, Section 22 (1) which deals with disputes between landowners and prospectors.

"It states that if any dispute arises between the holder of a prospecting licence, or mining location or special grant to prospect or an exclusive prospecting order and land owner or occupier of the land as to whether the land is open for prospecting or not, the matter shall be  referred to the administrative court for decision," the villager said.

"So the Administrative Court is the mining director who is the head of  the Administrative Court at provincial level.

“So if there are disputes between the people whether they have a certificate, EPO, prospecting licence or special grant because of occupiers of land and ownership, this matter must be taken to the Administrative Court for decision."

Insiza District Development Coordinator Zacharia Jusa declined to comment saying he was waiting for the outcome of their investigations.

"I cannot comment as yet. The team has just gone there to verify the facts," Jusa said.

Matabeleland South acting mining director  Khumbulani Mlangeni  said any registered miner has to operate within mining statutes.

"No complaints have been received yet so that the issue can be investigated,” Mlangeni said when contacted for comment.

“Riverbed mining is prohibited and the names of the company operating on site can only be disclosed after full investigations. We would not know who is mining off hand.”

There are several reports of Chinese miners clashing with villagers over their mining activities.

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