Government struggles to repair Kitsiyatota damage

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Government is reportedly struggling to secure funding to repair damages caused by gold panners at Kitsiyatota, a gold-rich patch on the outskirts of Bindura.

BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA

First Lady Grace Mugabe last year reportedly ordered authorities to stop running battles with the illegal miners, leaving the area a chaotic free-for-all zone.

However, following negative media reports, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) – made up of the police, army and intelligence – was forced into action and drove out the illegal miners out.

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The Environmental Management Agency (EMA), which is also represented in JOC, was tasked with doing an assessment of the damage before they tabled a report to the government.

Sources say the government initially wanted EMA to deal with the mess, but the move hit a brickwall after the agency made it clear that they had a policy that the one responsible for the damage pays for the repairs.

EMA Mashonaland Central provincial manager Robert Rwafa this week said their involvement in the matter was when they were asked to assess the damage.

“We were just asked to map the area and quantify the damage and that was our only involvement,” he said. He said there were unconfirmed reports that some illegal miners were still sneaking into the area that was cordoned off by State security agents.

Miners at Kitsiyatota were responsible for the damage to the environment and infrastructure, including Zesa poles and cables, railway infrastructure and water pipes.

Meanwhile, Pfura Rural District Council (RDC) has lamented lack of participation in community projects by the general public.

Speaking during the tour of a gully reclamation project at Mutondwe High School in Mt Darwin, Pfura RDC environment and agricultural executive officer Marinos Chambwera said the community had remained aloof while gullies threatened school and lives.

The gullies, some of them more than 1km long, were caused by sub-surface erosion and damaged roads that connect the school and nearby villages, making them impassable especially for pupils who risk being swept away during the rainy seasons.

“A few years ago we used to get money from the government for food that would motivate members of the community to come and work, but the funds have dried up. As a local authority, we now have an environmental policy for schools in Mt Darwin which we call Beyond 2018 and the schools are responding well,” he said.