Hwange Community Mining Activities: Win or Loss?

The benefits of mining to the national fiscus are positive and have been cited as the best vehicle for development. However, for the Hwange community, this may not be entirely true.

A Welcome to Hwange signpost is not the only visible feature you see which proves that one is in the mining Hwange district. The smells of burning coal in the atmosphere, the two significant towers exhausting smoke in the air at the Hwange Thermal Power Station are some of the features which resemble the area.

Hwange district boasts of various minerals which have put the district in the international economic arena. The Deka coalfields, Shangano and Sinamatela coalfields, Tungsten in Dinde as well as gas and tin dotted within the district.

Zimbabwe is already one of Africa’s biggest coal producers with the major producers coming from the Hwange district. About a third of Zimbabwe’s electricity is generated from the coal-fired power plant which as result is channelled to various parts of the country. A relatively small but very high-grade tungsten mineral is also found in Dinde plus the mineral is of high demand in the international market.

Of late, Hwange district is currently a home of hyperactive mines with the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development benchmarking the mining sector to become a US$12 billion industry by 2023.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa echoed similar sentiments saying the mining sector is a “vital cog” in the country’s drive towards socio-economic prosperity and the attainment of Vision 2030. The increase in capacity utilization of operational mines have seen the country witnessing “unprecedented investor interest” in the mining sector, but residents of the district are crying foul for not benefiting anything from the mushrooming of these mines.

The Hwange District Residents Association Deputy Chairman Donnie Mwembe says Hwange district has a lot of mining activities but the community is not benefiting anything from the activities.

“In a normal set-up, with all these mining activities in the district, the community should not be crying or complaining over the state of schools, clinics and infrastructure. We don’t even have a technical college in the district,” says Mwembe.

“These mines should contribute towards the development of this district like what is happening in other mining districts,” says Mwembe.

The miners are exploiting the Hwange resources and not ploughing back to the community.

“The Hwange district health sector is dead. People walk several kilometres to the nearest health centre. The miners should at least build clinics; provide medicines whenever it is necessary. We know they make a lot of money using our resources and it is our request as residents that they put the community they are working in as a priority as well,” he adds.

Mwembe says the schools in Hwange rural areas are in bad shape as most of them are not even electrified and have no laboratories for science subjects.

“Most of the schools in Hwange rural have no electricity yet we are the ones producing the majority of electricity feeding other schools in Mashonaland areas,” Mwembe adds.

The residents of Hwange district are urging the miners in the district to be accountable when it comes to developing the community they operate in.

The Member of Parliament for Hwange Central Constituency Daniel Molokele says the mining entities in Hwange district have become a thorn in the flesh for most communities in the district.

Molokele says he appreciates past efforts done by the Hwange Colliery Company Limited, building schools and hospitals for the community.

“The new companies, especially the Chinese owned, are not making any efforts to benefit the communities they are mining in. The new mines have the goal of looting resources and making sure that they loot every value they can get from the resources and send it back to their country or homes and forgetting about people in Hwange.”

“I will justify my point, look at the Hwange gasification mine, South mining company and various other mines operating in the district, all these have not built any significant permanent infrastructure, the reason being building permanent structures is not part of their mission, they all have temporary structures which they will just leave after they are done,” adds Molokele. 

Meanwhile, Dinde community members recently resisted the coming of a Chinese mining company citing part of the reasons that they will not benefit from them.

Morris Sibanda the ward 13 councillor of Dinde says part of the reasons why the Dinde community is resisting mining investors to come into their communities is because they are not going to benefit from them.

“There is a saying which goes like this, once bitten twice shy. We cannot be cheated again. We decided to resist these Chinese investors because we benefit nothing from them, instead, they create problems for us such as water pollution and destroying the environment,” says Councilor Sibanda. Although the mining sector is believed to be a vital contributor to the country’s economy, the solutions to the problems brought in by miners in Hwange remain unsolved as community views are not always considered.

Source: The Citizen Bulletin

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