GWANDA — A planned demonstration by the Lushongwe-Nqama Small-Scale Miners’ Association against a “chaotic” indigenisation programme failed to take off on Thursday at Freda Mine after the association failed to seek police clearance first.
The organisation’s secretary, Cosmas Nyathi, told NewsDay that plainclothes policemen visited them in the morning and told them not to go ahead with the demonstration without police clearance.
“They told us that we could be mistaken for people who have a political motive since we are approaching elections and said it would be wise for us to first discuss our grievances with Freda Mine managing director Ignatius Gona with whom we have problems concerning the indigenisation programme,” said Nyathi.
Lushongwe-Nqama Small-Scale Miners’ Associaton is into gold mining.
Enock Sibanda, the organisation’s chairperson, said they wanted to demonstrate against Gona who reportedly takes claims from miners under unclear circumstances. “We have more than 200 members in our association. What Gona does is that once he discovers a claim is lucrative, he takes over claiming that the area belongs to him even though we got the claims under the indigenisation programme,” said Sibanda. He said members were “very angry” with Gona.
“He refuses to meet with us and sends representatives from the mine. He has refused to meet us on several occasions and hence we wanted to demonstrate against him,” Sibanda said while flanked by a group of miners who belong to his organisation.
He said Gona also makes sure that the miners only have their gold processed at Freda Mine so that “he keeps a close eye on what we get from our claims”.
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Sibanda said they would meet over the weekend and chart the way forward. “We are going to meet and re-strategise because we are not happy with the way we are being treated. Miners fear that their claims will be taken away from them.” Efforts to get a comment from Gona were fruitless as his mobile number was not reachable throughout the day yesterday.
Matabeleland South is a lucrative gold mining area.