‘Liberation museum sitting on goldfield’

‘Liberation museum

SATELLITE images dating back to 1985 show that the famed US$40 million Museum of African Liberation project is being constructed on a goldfield, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

According to the satellite images, the terrain has however changed resulting in some people being displaced and compensated to pave way for the latest construction.

As reported by this publication last week, plans by Chinese firm Ming Chang Sino-Africa Mining Investments to ostensibly set up a multi-million-dollar brick moulding plan at the same site were reversed by the government, subsequently paving way for the museum project.

In 1924, a firm known as Golden Quarries used to mine gold on part of the 100-ha piece of land where the Museum of African Liberation  is being constructed under the administration of the Institute of African Knowledge (Instak). At that time the Rhodesian government had registered 16 gold blocks in the area.

The site of the museum project sits at corner Samora Machel West Avenue and a road known as Golden Quarry.

Images gleaned by the Independent on Google Earth Pro, a software application that allows visualisation, assessment, overlay and creation of geospatial data graphically reveal how the terrain of the museum site has changed from a bushy area to the current land developments unfolding in the area. The coordinates of the museum site on Google Earth Pro are 17° 49' 30.80" south and 30° 58' 37" east.

As revealed by the satellite images, land development activities only appear visible in the area, which is now known as the Liberation City, in 2021, the year construction of the giant museum commenced.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa presided over the groundbreaking ceremony of the Museum of African Liberation project on December 3 2021.

To pave the way for the museum, various businesses were displaced from the Liberation City, while some, including businessman Phillip Chiyangwa, were compensated for a portion of land they used to own within the area.

Following a tour of the Liberation City this week by the Independent, Instak spokesperson Joseph Nkani confirmed that “it was not in dispute” that the area was once a gold mining site, but highlighted that the museum project developers adopted a “civil approach” to engage with people and businesses who were being displaced.

“That’s not in dispute (that gold mining used to happen on the site). We adopted a civil approach towards people who had legal papers proving that they had leased the various portions of land at the Liberation City. Of course, some did not have any papers supporting their occupancy at the museum site.

“Those who demonstrated that they had lease arrangements with the local authority were duly advised of the new project coming and were duly compensated,” Nkana said.

Some of the entities moved from the site and compensated include Westview Baptist Church, Ngoda Granite, ZimStrong and Kubatana Cooperative.

Compensation beneficiaries, Nkana said, also include, “various traders with separate names but administered under Kubatana Cooperative,” highlighting that, “financial compensation has also been advanced to them -- their legal advisers can confirm this arrangement.”

Chiyangwa, Nkana told the Independent, had also been compensated for the 5,5-ha piece of land he owned in the area, to pave way for the Liberation City project, which will house the African Museum. Nkana did not disclose how much was paid to Chiyangwa and others.

During the tour, the Independent viewed a new block of ablution facilities across Golden Quarry Road, which Nkana said were built for traders under the Kubatana Cooperative stable while artists carrying out soapstone carving had also been moved. A borehole has also been drilled for those displaced.

“We have now built ablution facilities and sunk a borehole for them at their new site across Golden Quarry Road. Financial compensation has also been advanced to them…No exact figures on me right now (amount of compensation).

“But arrangements were mutually agreed and the parties are on the same page. There are no disputes,” Nkana told the Independent.

The Liberation City is envisioned to be supported by numerous recreational facilities and would be an ideal entertainment facility for visitors.

“The Liberation City (the broad term referring to the 101 hectares of land) where various commercial, recreational and amusement amenities will be established borders Samora Machel, Golden Quarry and Kirkman (now Solomon Mujuru),” Nkana added.

At the site of the museum, flags belonging to all the countries in Africa flap leisurely in the sky, as Instak forges ahead to transform the site into a major tourism drawcard. Space has also been set aside at the museum site to showcase decommissioned military armaments

The National Social Security Authority in partnership with Instak are also setting up a shopping mall which Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavhima said would create “a shopping experience in a safe congenial environment”.

An upmarket golf course will also be incorporated into the Liberation City, a luxurious hotel will be built while a skyrail connecting the site with the National Heroes Acre will be erected.

The Museum of African Liberation is meant to capture the African historical experience while immortalising the continent’s triumphant struggle against colonialism.

Instak, which is the project administrators, is a trust with a  seven member board of trustees led by Ambassador Simbi Mubako.

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