A KARIBA-BASED gold mining company, Townsend Enterprises, has accused top government officials of facilitating the takeover of its gold claims at Gache-Gache on the shores of Kariba Dam by State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Christopher Hokonya, chairperson of Townsend Enterprises, made the claims in Parliament on Thursday, accusing Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, his predecessor Ignatius Chombo, former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa and ex-secretary Francis Gudyanga of facilitating the deal.
Hokonya told the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Mines chaired by Temba Mliswa that he could not understand how ZCDC, whose mandate was to mine for diamonds, ended up carrying out gold mining activities.
He said his company discovered the gold deposits along the Gache-Gache River when they were sub-contracted by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) in 2015 to supply sand to Chinese firm, Sino Hydro, for the construction of Kariba South Power Station.
“When we found out that there was gold in Gache-Gache River, suddenly, a company called ZCDC appeared without the requisite papers and dumped their equipment and forced our workers out, and they started cutting down trees without permission from the rural district council or the Environmental Management Agency (EMA),” Hokonya said.
“We saw that there was more of personal interest on that project and there was a lot of bullying and a lot of visits from a contingent of ministers comprising Chombo, Chinamasa, Chidakwa and Gudyanga, as well as from Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri.”
ZCDC was given the nod to mine alluvial gold at Gache-Gache and the claims were that it (ZCDC) had been given the mandate in order to ensure that there was no environmental degradation, as the project was on the river banks.
“We believed that the ministry of Mines will be the ultimate authority and we wrote to Chidakwa about the issue, but he never responded, even if I personally delivered some of the letters. We also wrote letters to the Office of the President and Cabinet because our investigations told us that there was no approval given to ZCDC for the project,” he said.
Hokonya also told the committee that Gache-Gache area had very rich sands, which could be useful during the construction of the proposed Kariba Airport.