The battle for control of the gold-rich Chaka Mine located in the Sherwood Block has taken a new twist with some small-scale miners accusing police of working in cahoots with unregistered miners to conduct mining activities in defiance of a government prohibition order.
Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Gift Chimanikire told NewsDay yesterday government had prohibited mining activities in the area.
“The latest information I have is that Sherwood was declared a reserved area and no licences were issued for any mining activities in that area until further notice. If there are any new developments, I am not yet aware,” he said.
On May 11, Kwekwe Small-Scale Miners’ Association secretary Tendai Dube wrote to the Midlands Joint Operations Command (JOC) accusing the police of “clandestinely” allowing unregistered miners to continue operations in the area.
Dube said MidKwe Minerals, co-owned by Zanu PF Buhera North MP William Mutomba and Smelly Dube, had been allowed to extract gold in the area without a valid operating licence.
Part of the letter read:“They (MidKwe Minerals) do their mining without any documents, permits or tribute agreements . . . CID Kwekwe is afraid of arresting them because they claim to be connected to top police officers.
“We ask you members of JOC to investigate these people as they are causing problems to our members . . . Mrs Dube claims to be Zanu PF, but she is not, we have checked. She . . . masquerades as Zanu PF to get things and using big names.”
But Dube, Mutomba’s business partner, denied the allegations, adding their operations were backed by a court order granted to them two months ago after former owner Lee Waverley Jones took them to court over control of the mine.
“We are at Chaka Plant because we have a court order which gives us the right to be there and those allegations and letters which are flying around will not change anything. We have been told that Mudha (Ncube) is behind the letter and he has taken sides with Jones,” Dube said.
However Ncube, who is the Zanu PF Midlands provincial security officer, denied the charge, saying: “I have nothing to do with the letter you refer to and therefore I am not in any position to discuss a letter whose contents I don’t even know.”