Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has warned that all mining firms operating along the Gwayi-Shangani Dam catchment area would soon be evicted to guard against water pollution and to pave way for the construction of the water pipeline to the City of Bulawayo.
Addressing a Press conference in Bulawayo last Friday, Tsvangirai said the move would affect those mines whose operations were deemed a threat to the dam and the National Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (NMZWP).
He, however, said the affected firms would be compensated by the government.
Environmentalists have recently raised concern after several mining companies were awarded special coal mining grants by Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu.
Mpofu however dismissed the concerns as “baseless”.
But Tsvangirai said: “If the mines are operating on the confluences of the Gwayi-Shangani Dam then they will have to be removed. It is simple. For the Bubi-Lupane Dam that we commissioned yesterday (on Thursday) about 154 people were moved to make way for the dam and they were compensated. The mines will have to be moved because the NMZWP is a huge national project.”
In May this year, Mpofu accused owners of wildlife conservancies in Matabeleland North of proffering unconvincing arguments for blocking mining activities in the area.
He was quoted as saying mining laws superceded all other laws on the land, adding: “Because that is where the economy is, the economy is being driven by the mining sector and we don’t want that thrust to be derailed or interfered with by people who do not seem to understand government policies.”
Hwange, Gwayi, Dete Conservancy and Tourism Association chairperson Langton Masunda however, hit back, accusing Mpofu of “politricking” saying the coal in the conservancy was there long before he was appointed minister.
“We are also worried about pollutants; we have two big rivers, Gwayi and Shangani, feeding into Zambezi River. If they use open cast mining on these sites they will pollute the dams and Zambezi and downstream to Mozambique. What is right is that we do things for the future and make sure that the future generation benefits and not do things like the world will end tomorrow,” Masunda said then.