Zvamaida Murwira in Mutoko
Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has summoned five mining companies extracting granite rock and quarry in Mutoko District, Mashonaland East, to his office next week to explain why they were not developing the area they operated in. He said this after receiving complaints from local community leaders that the area remained underdeveloped despite the fact that the firms were mining and getting rich pickings from the natural resources.
Deputy Speaker of National Assembly and Mutoko North MP Cde Mabel Chinomona, traditional leaders and civic leaders told VP Mphoko that the companies were carrying heavy stones, using heavy and noisy machinery and exposing locals to lung diseases with dust, but the community had nothing to show for it.
VP Mphoko was in the area to commission Makochera Primary School that was renovated by one of the local mining companies, Natural Stones Export Company, after the school was damaged during a thunderstorm.
He directed Cde Chinomona to bring all the companies to his office in Harare to hear why they were not developing the area they were working in.
“You should come with the five companies to my office on Thursday. Get in touch with the other four companies that are not here so that they come to my office. There are a lot of things that these companies can do for you here as a community,” said VP Mphoko.
He commended Natural Stones Export Company for taking heed after he advised them to assist in the renovation of the school when he visited the area last year.
“Natural Stones Export has lived true to its pledge that they will assist this school. But we want to know what is happening with other companies,” he said.
Other companies are Red Granite, Quarrying Enterprise, CRG and Zimbabwe International Quarrying. Earlier, Cde Chinomona complained that the companies had not done much for the area.
She castigated Natural Stones Export for sprucing up the road linking the highway to the school a few days ago in preparation for VP Mphoko’s visit.
Cde Chinomona said all the five companies did not respond to their plea to renovate Makochera Primary School when it was damaged by thunderstorm and Natural Stones Export had to act following the intervention of VP Mphoko.
“Had it not been for your visit here and subsequent intervention, Natural Stones Export would not have moved in to assist. So we urge you to continue visiting this area. All the companies have not been honouring their community share ownership trust and it was only recently that Natural Stones Export began making payments. I think there is some arrogance within the rank of some officials in the companies not to respect some of us,” said Cde Chinomona while giving a briefing to VP Mphoko.
Council chairperson Cde Zano Kahuni had said they would soon demonstrate against the companies if they continued refusing to develop the area.
He, however, commended Natural Stones Export for doing better than the other four.
“We will soon mobilise ourselves together with our children and put up at their premises until they leave. The four other companies have no right to continue mining if they do not want to develop the area. I think we will break the law and force them to close if they continue with that arrogance,” said Cde Kahuni.
Chief Mutoko echoed the same sentiments saying the other four companies should be stopped from mining if they did not want to develop the area.
Natural Stones Export company official Dr Edward Muvuro said the company had renovated the school to the tune of more than $100 000.