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Villagers, granite miner clash in Seke

Local News
SAVANHU villagers in Seke district, Mashonaland East province, have appealed to government to stop a granite mining company from operating in the area, arguing that it was allocated the claim without their consent.

SAVANHU villagers in Seke district, Mashonaland East province, have appealed to government to stop a granite mining company from operating in the area, arguing that it was allocated the claim without their consent.

The villagers have since petitioned the Mines and Mining Development ministry and Environment Management Agency via the court to stop Seven Stars Mining from operating in the area.

The villagers through Zanu PF councillor Blessing Munemo are accusing the mining company Matscandnavia Investments, operating as Seven Stars Mining, of exposing them to an unhealthy and unsafe environment through its mining activities.

Munemo, who is being represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights’  Tinashe Chinopfukutwa and Kelvin Kabaya deposed an affidavit supporting his interdict application to the High Court, saying the mining activities are exposing them to unmitigated environmental hazards.

The villagers are seeking a prohibitory interdict barring the mining company from carrying out any prospecting, exploration and mining activities in Mayambara village, Seke without following due and lawful processes.

In his affidavit, Munemo submitted: “Sometime in 2023, Matscandnavia Investments through its employees and/or agents, descended on Savanhu, Mhonda, Mhundwa and Charigwati villages in Mayambara, Seke and proceeded to peg the area in the entirety of the four villages for quarry mining purposes.

“The majority of the pegs are in my village, Savanhu village ostensibly because it is the village with a huge expanse and deposits of granite. The pegs installed cover the entirety of the four villages. I was never consulted on the proposed quarry mining activities and I never consented to the same.”

Munemo said on March 11 this year, his lawyers wrote to Matscandnavia demanding that it stops its quarry mining activities and remove its pegs because it had not complied with the provisions of the law and more particularly in that it did not acquire an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certificate.

The mining company, according to the affidavit, wrote to Manyame Rural District Council chief executive accusing Munemo of disrupting its activities.

The company, however, confirmed that it has not yet obtained the EIA certificate in relation to the project and that it was carrying out quarry mining activities in the village.

Munemo said the letter prompted him to approach the courts for an interdict citing section 97 of the Environmental Management Act which says mineral prospecting, which includes pegging, cannot be conducted unless Ema has issued a certificate approving the same.

He further argues that, according to a letter written to council, Matscandnavia is yet to obtain an EIA certificate which is a prerequisite for quarry mining operations, adding that the pegging which was conducted was unlawful.

He also cited Section 73 of the Constitution, saying he had a right to an environment which is not detrimental to his health and a right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.

“To this end, therefore, I submit that I have a clear right to live in an environment in which the environmental impact of the 1st respondent’s mining activities is assessed before its activities commence.

“It is beyond doubt that the purpose of environmental impact assessment certificate is to ensure sustainable use of natural resources,” Munemo submitted.

He said an EIA certificate would be a seal of approval that a development or activity is compliant with environmental standards and standards for sustainable use of natural resources.

He averred that failure to stop the mining activities would cause irreparable harm to villagers who would lose grazing pastures, land for cultivation and sacred traditional and cultural shrines.

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