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Politicians use political clout

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GURUVE — Politicians are reportedly using their clout to wrest chrome claims from small-scale claim holders in Guruve, community leaders told parliamentarians here on Wednesday.

The communities urged the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy on a countrywide tour of chrome mines to investigate lease agreements, tributes or certificates of transfers to Chinese miners, environmental degradation and how mining operations were benefiting communities.

During the public hearing conducted at Horseshoe Primary School in Mutoko, where 300 workers from Sun He Mine were affected by the ban of exports of raw chrome, small-scale miners indicated they were abused by politicians who grabbed their claims leaving them struggling to survive.

“A lot of small-scale miners are losing their chrome and gold claims to politicians and there is also a lot of looting of other people’s minerals by those with political clout and we ask the committee to represent us in Harare so that small-scale miners can be protected,” said one member of the community.

A small-scale miner added: “Politicians have said they want indigenous people to benefit, but now we are confused what their definition of indigenisation is because we are losing our claims to people from other parts of the country.”

Although no particular politician was fingered by the community who seemed afraid to name and shame them, some later told NewsDay the issue claims chrome claims had been so politicised that those who refused to surrender them were labelled opposition supporters and threatened.

“People claiming to be Zanu PF (members) have come demanding that we surrender our claims to them and whenever we refuse to do that, they threaten us and start labelling us MDC-T supporters. In the end due to fear, we end up giving up our claims,” said a disgruntled mine worker.

Other issues that came out from the public hearing were that there was a possibility some chrome claim holders were not only extracting chrome deposits, but other minerals including gold.

The Great Dyke area is endowed with platinum, gold, chrome deposits and the Chinese have descended on the area to extract minerals although some of them were not registered with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

Villagers also accused Chinese miners of using unorthodox labour practices at their mines. But Lei Zhang, the corporate secretary of Sun He Mine, denied the allegations and told the committee they lived harmoniously with the community.

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