By Nkosana Dlamini
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has issued a somewhat inexplicable warning against Chinese investors for allegedly driving some local communities from their ancestral land to set up mining business ventures.
Mnangagwa was speaking Saturday while addressing thousands of Zanu PF supporters at a rally in Chidodo Primary School in Uzumba, Mashonaland East after presiding over the memorial service of late former Zimbabwe Prisons Commissioner-General Major General Paradzai Zimondi who succumbed to Covid-19 early this year.
“We do not want people who come to do mining in an area and disrupt people’s ways of lives,” Mnangagwa said.
“Communities come first and that should be respected. No mining should happen unless the people and their community leadership agree.
“If the community says a project cannot go on, that should be final.”
His comments follow recent attempts by Chinese mining giant, Heijin, to displace some 89 Kaseke households in Uzumba from their ancestral land to set up a black granite extraction venture.
Government has stepped in to help work out a deal between Kaseke villagers and the mining company.
The Uzumba case is one among several in which villagers have found themselves forcefully moved from their ancestral land to pave way for some mining ventures by foreigners.
The deals are often struck between the investors and government officials without consulting villagers who stand to be affected.
Mnangagwa said this was unacceptable.
“I heard that there were people who wanted to do mining on school premises. That is unacceptable,” he said.
“I told Minister of State for provincial Affairs and Devolution (for Mashonaland East, Apollonia Munzverengwi) that all those who try to impose their projects on communities should be reported.”
He said foreign investment is welcome in Zimbabwe, but the country should set the rules of engagement.
However, the Zimbabwean leader’s comments could come off as insincere as foreign investors first have to secure some rights under national laws before they could start embarking on the mining ventures.