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ZANU PF Councillor sues granite mining company

Blessing Munemo, a ZANU PF councillor in Seke Rural, has approached the courts to stop a granite mining company from carrying out unsanctioned exploration activities on villagers’ land.

Munemo, who is Councillor for Ward 1 in Mayambara in Seke, is being assisted by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR). The ZLHR said:

Cllr Munemo wants Matscandnavia, which trades as Seven Stars Mine, to be ordered not to prospect, conduct exploration or any form of mining activity in four villages namely Savanhu, Mhonda, Mhundwa and Charigwati located in Mayambira in Seke in Mashonaland East province, without following due process and the law.

Councillor Munemo, who lives in Savanhu village, where he was born in 1984 and which is also his ancestral home, recently engaged Tinashe Chinopfukutwaand Kelvin Kabaya of ZLHR, who on 10 April filed an application at Marondera Magistrates Court, seeking an order compelling Matscandnavia to be ordered to remove some pegs, which the mining company installed in some villagers’ land within 24 hours of the granting of the order sought by the community leader.

In the event that the mining company fails to comply with the order to remove the pegs, Councillor Munemo wants the court to authorise the Messenger of Court to pluck them off the villagers’ land.

Councillor Munemo told the court that sometime in 2023, some employees or agents of Matscandnavia descended on Savanhu, Mhonda, Mhundwa and Charigwati villages, where they pegged the area for quarry mining purposes, with the majority of the pegs having been mounted in Savanhu village, which has a huge expanse and deposits of granite.

Councillor Munemo, who apart from Matscandnavia, also cited the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and Mines and Mining Development Minister Hon. Zhemu Soda as respondents to the application, protested that he was never consulted on the proposed quarry mining activities and he never consented to the same.

He stated that he resorted to taking legal action against Matscandnavia after the mining company ignored his letter, which was written on his behalf by Chinopfukutwa and Kabaya on 11 March 2024 requesting the mining company to stop its quarry mining activities and to remove its pegs because it had not complied with the provisions of the law such as acquiring an Environmental Impact Assessment certificate.

In his application, Councillor Munemo argued that in terms of the provisions of section 97 of the Environmental Management Act, mineral prospecting, which includes pegging, cannot be conducted unless EMA has issued a certificate approving the same.

He protested that the mining company had pegged the villagers’ land without the written consent and approval of the Manyame Rural District Council under which the four villages fall.

Councillor Munemo stated that in terms of the provisions of section 73 of the Constitution, he has a right to a safe and healthy environment, which is not detrimental to his health and he also has a right to have the environment to be protected for the benefit of present and future generations through measures which ensures ecologically sustainable use of natural resources.

Councillor Munemo bemoaned that villagers were going to lose their grazing pastures, farming land and some sacred traditional and cultural shrines to Matscandnavia operations.

He said allowing Matscandnavia to conduct granite mining operations without any environmental impact assessment having been done and approved by EMA, would effectively mean that several dwellers in the 4 villages would be staying in the midst of a mining location and would be exposed to unmitigated and unassessed environmental hazards.

In response to Councillor Munemo’s disapproval of Matscandnavia operations in the 4 villages, the mining company through its lawyers Zvavanoda Law Chambers, on 20 March wrote a letter of complaint to Manyame Rural District Council alleging that his conduct was adversely affecting its quarry mining project and the community’s interests, an allegation which he denies. On Friday, the hearing of the application at Marondera Magistrates Court was postponed to 2 May.

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