Fight over Bikita vindicates PM

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Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told Parliament last week indigenisation, while noble in intent and purpose, had been tainted — in fact, prostituted by wanton greed and political grandstanding.

The manner in which the issue of indigenisation has been handled by Zanu PF politicians has exposed the extent of greed that, before the wave moved to mines and other companies, saw individuals doling out to each other thousands of hectares of prime farming land while the landless peasants, in whose name the agrarian reform found mileage, remained perched on rocky mountain tops like baboons.

Yesterday’s issue of NewsDay carried the story of another Zanu PF dogfight over the country’s sole lithium producer, Bikita Minerals — some 60km east of Masvingo.

The fight pits Zanu PF’s two major factions, allegedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa’s man on the ground is believed to be Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana — better known for other antics at Copac — who is fighting the Mujuru representative, the diminutive and controversial Dzikamai Mavhaire.

“Mavhaire is fronting for the whites at Bikita Minerals. Where did he get the money to buy those shares? He is being used by the whites. It is so shameful,” fumed Mangwana.

Mavhaire is a Zanu PF politburo member being accused by the former Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment of playing as a front for some white mine owners in exchange of cars!

But Mavhaire denies this and says the 21% stake he holds at Bikita Minerals was obtained over the 10 years he has been an interested party at the mine — long before the likes of Mangwana opened their eyes to see there is indigeniation to benefit from.

What is, however, shameful about this fight over ownership of the mine is the shameless manner in which both factions abuse the local community in their fight.

The only benefit that poor villagers in Chief Marozva’s area get from the mine is the byproduct powder which they transport in heavy sacks to the cities where they sell it as the popular scouring powder, Vim.

But they are blackmailed for this valueless powder — threatened they will be denied access to the white ash if they do not do as the politicians bid.

At one time, not so long ago, the Mnangagwa faction, through former Bikita West Member of Parliament Retired Colonel Claudious Makova, is said to have, in a bid to wrest control from Mavhaire, masterminded the kidnapping of the mine manager Ronnie MacPhail and three other senior managers who enjoy the tacit backing of the Mujuru faction.

The Mujuru faction hit back with Mavhaire employing his political clout and influence to have Makova’s youths jailed by a local magistrates’ court.

Now Mnangagwa’s lot, led by Makova, is reportedly trying to influence villagers to demonstrate against the mine, accusing it of destroying the environment.

Mine managers and workers reportedly said they feared for their future after Zanu PF youths aligned to Makova descended on the mine and accused them of backing whites who work with Mavhaire.

This is the form of indigenisation that the Prime Minister bemoaned in Parliament last week.