WOMEN in Zvishavane have demanded that they should benefit from chrome mining activities happening in their communities.
BY SILAS NKALA
This was revealed in a recent report on mining by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela), which stated that mining communities were not benefiting from corporate social responsibility projects by big corporates extracting in their areas.
The Zela report also said the partial repeal of the indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act through the Finance 2018 Act had erased all hopes for mining communities to benefit from their natural resources.
“The Indigenisation Act provided for the participation of indigenous Zimbabweans in mining activities through share ownership schemes such as the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).
In the absence of empowerment laws, communities are left at the mercy of companies through corporate social responsibility (CSR),” the Zela report read.
They said for instance, Mapirimira ward in Zvishavane was home to many chrome mining companies that include Asia Ferry and Bhunday, which were causing extensive damage to the environment, yet communities were not benefiting.
“Community members in this ward pointed out that chrome mining is causing extensive damage to the road infrastructure and the environment. When the mining companies abandon the pits, they leave them open, and these pose as death traps to both livestock and humans.
“The issue of open pits is a common trend that has characterised chrome mining in Zvishavane district. In most cases, the host mining communities feel powerless to demand that these companies rehabilitate the areas where they would have finished chrome extraction,” the report said.
The Zela report said when the community members of Mapirimira ward tried to engage Bhunday Chrome Mining Company, the company executives refused to meet the communities saying their firm was broke and, therefore, could not do any CSR activities.
“About 80 people, mostly women, turned up at the Asia Ferry chrome pits. The women blocked the road from the chrome pits to the processing plant.
“They held placards with messages demanding that the company repairs the tertiary roads in the community, sink boreholes and scoop dams.”
Zela said after the demonstration by the women the company executives at Asia Ferry bowed to community demands.
The environmental non-governmental organisation said it was imperative for communities to know their environmental, economic, social and cultural rights.