GUSHUNGO Holdings, a business concern owned by the First Family has reportedly kicked out 11 small-scale miners occupying 22 hectares of land along Mazowe River to pave way for the expansion of the family business.
REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU
It is understood that the small-scale miners and 50 families at the site, were given six days to vacate the area which was immediately declared a high security area because of its proximity to First Lady Grace Mugabe’s private school, orphanage home and her dairy company in Mazowe.
President Robert Mugabe’s family has vast interests in Mazowe, which include an orphanage, a state-of-the-art learning institution, Amai Grace Mugabe Junior School all run by First Lady Grace Mugabe and a dairy company, Alpha and Omega.
In an interview with NewsDay yesterday, one of the evicted miners said they were summoned by management at Gushungo Holdings two weeks ago and given six days to remove their belongings.
“The management told us they were under instructions from the First Family whom they said wanted us out as it was a security area. Before, we were summoned, Gushungo Holdings’ head of security, whom we only know as Mpambi, visited our claims and demanded samples of our ore. He came in the company of foreigners whom we suspect to be Russians,” the source said speaking on condition of anonymity.
The source added that on Thursday last week, bulldozers accompanied by anti-riot police descended on the area and razed down all structures from the mining sites dotted along Mazowe Valley.
“There were about 50 families at the site and all of them are out as we speak. What concerns us most is that we were not given any letters of eviction to indicate that the operation was above board. Furthermore, we were told in no uncertain terms that we would not be compensated for any developments at the site,” another source added.
Gushungo Holdings general manager Stanley Nhari could neither deny nor confirm that the company had evicted the miners and their families from their mining sites.
But, he said: “I have held so many meetings with many groups and I do not remember the one you are referring to. However, it has to be noted that this is a high security zone and panners indulging in illegal activities are all over along the Mazowe River.”
Nhari, who demanded to know NewsDay sources to ascertain whether he had held meetings with them or not, added: “As far as I am concerned Gushungo Holdings has not taken over any mine in this area. We do not believe in operating that way.”
The miners, who claimed they made an average of about $3 000 a month through the mining ventures, said they did not know how they would make ends meet following the evictions.
Contacted for comment, principal director in the Office of the President Lawrence Kamwi refused to comment and referred questions to Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba.
“You know George Charamba don’t you? Please speak to him over such issues,” he said before switching off his phone.
Charamba could, however, not be reached as his mobile phones went unanswered.