Zibagwe sues chrome miner over $300k rates arrears

BY BRENNA MATENDERE

TWO top mines in Kwekwe owe Zibagwe Rural District Council (RDC) over $800 000 in unpaid rates, a development that has crippled operations at the cash-strapped local authority, Southern Eye has established.

Minutes of a full council meeting held on April 30 show that African Chrome Fields (ACF) owed the local authority $297 625, while Silobela-based gold mining giant, Jena Mines, had a debt of $517 000.

The ACF plant in Kwekwe was commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in July last year amid pomp and fanfare, with reports indicating that the firm had poured $320 million into the plant.

Zibagwe RDC chief executive Farai Machaya told councillors and management that in the ACF case, they were considering legal recourse.

“ACF Mine owes our council $297 625 in unpaid rates. The company has failed to co-operate with our team and we have been left with no option, but to take legal action in order to recover the money,” he said.

Machaya said each time the RDC tried to engage the mine executives, they were told that the officers responsible for such matters were out of the country.

“On several occasions, we were advised to take legal action against ACF, but we were reluctant. However, each time we tried to engage the mine, they tell us that those in charge are outside the country. We have taken the matter to our lawyers and the pre-trial conference is going to be held soon,” Machaya said.

Zibagwe ward 29 councillor Willard Moyo also expressed concern over the debts.

“Jena Mines, for example, is a big mine that is producing a lot of gold. It is surprising how it fails to pay council rates,” he said.

A resolution was passed for an investigation to be carried out on the two mines to ascertain why they were unwilling to pay the rates after other councillors suggested there could be a “hidden hand” behind their non-compliance.

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