COMMUNITY-Based organisations (CBOs) in Manicaland province have said President Emmerson Mnangagwa does not want to accept the truth that Zimbabwe is facing severe economic challenges that have left citizens hopeless and desperate for change in the leadership of the country.
This came out during a Mutasa District Alternative Mining Indaba held in Mutare recently that was jointly organised by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd).
The meeting was aimed at creating a platform for communities in Mutasa district to share experiences in fighting inequalities and exclusionary mining policies and practices within the community. Community members said they were concerned that their grievances had been falling on deaf ears, accusing Mnangagwa of failing to listen to concerns raised by citizens.
“It is unfortunate that all what we are craving for, as Zimbabweans, is not coming our way. We have grievances but they are falling on deaf ears. Our President does not want to accept the truth that the country’s economy is in shambles,” Zondai Marufu from Penhalonga said.
“The President has advisors, but he does not want to listen to them. He just does not want to accept the reality that this country is in tatters. Sometimes we need spiritual intervention, but still, he is not listening or accepting the advice from churches.”
Daphine Mudarikwa, a ZCC board member said they had tried to engage Mnangagwa but their efforts were in vain.
“We had a campaign called: “I stand with the bishops”, aimed at fostering dialogue with the President. But, in some cases the President could not listen to our issues. The bishops have tried in their capacity to advise the President to no avail,” she said. Mudarikwa said Zimbabwe was endowed with natural resources which if managed well had the potential to improve citizens’ way of life.
“Nevertheless, the mining sector’s potential to turn around the economic fortunes of an impoverished nation is undermined by poor governance characterised by corruption, irresponsible mining and mineral resource leakages in general,” she said.
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Penhalonga residents expressed concern over the exploitation of gold without benefiting the community.
Weston Makoni, who is the Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers Trust chairperson questioned why there were no control measures in place for leakages of gold.
“There are unsafe mining practices done by small scale and artisanal miners. They have made the area an environmental eyesore as visibly abandoned mining pits are seen everywhere even on roads, posing a danger not only to people but also to their livestock that is often trapped into these gullies,” he said.
Tracy Mutasa, a resident, said Penhalonga lacked basic infrastructure for a community that boasts of vast deposits of minerals.
“Russian and Belarusian companies operate in the area, but community benefaction has been the least of the concerns of the companies as well as the government where the investment deals are made a secret violating the principles of transparency and accountability,” she said.
The residents called on Mnangagwa to listen to the concerns of the residents and solve the mess in Penhalonga that has seen gold worth millions of US dollars siphoned through well-orchestrated syndicates.