Illegal miners destroy Mavuradonha sanctuary


ILLEGAL miners have continued to foment chaos in the Mavuradonha Wilderness sanctuary despite a recent government ban on mining activities amid allegations that some Muzarabani District Council (MRDC) officials have been benefiting from the opaque activities.

There was a vicious war last year between more than 50 indigenous miners including foreign investors and MRDC following indications that the local authority was blocking miners from accessing the Mavuradonha Wilderness despite being armed with valid special mining grants. The land in question covers over 66 000 hectares.

MRDC has refuted allegations that some council officials were bribed by illegal miners who have continued operations at Muvaradonha in the wilderness.

Mavuradonha Wilderness was declared a national monument in 2017 but alluvial chrome and gold miners have become a threat to the sacred area.

MRDC chairman Alderman Ashton Chiweshe denied the bribery allegations but confirmed that the local authority was battling to stop illegal mining operations.

“We have a resolution which says no to mining activities in the wilderness. We are an institution guided by statutes. Can anybody prove the bribery allegations? We are battling to stop this using all possible means. We need proof. I am not aware. Illegal miners never come to us, hence we don't know them,” Chiweshe said.

However, a conservancy operator in the area who requested anonymity made corruption allegations against some council officials.

“On the other side, we have illegal miners in the area who have continued to operate despite the ban. I suspect there are underhand dealings with council officials considering that there are 50 gold panners operating as well,” the operator said.

The Mavuradonha Wilderness and Mountains form the eastern part of the Zambezi Escarpment, rising over 1 000 metres and peaking at Banirembizi.

The area is one of the richest in terms of mineral resources because that is where the Great Dyke geographically starts.

Minerals found in the area, according to the ministry of Mines Geological Survey departments include, gold, platinum, nickel, uranium, gas and chrome.

History has it that the area has the grave of Nyatsimba Mutota, the Mutota Empire.

Mavuradonha, a natural habitat of wildlife has been the epicentre of squabbles between environmentalists and mining entities angling to invest in the area.

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