Communities around the gold mining area of Rosa in Mashonaland Central Province have expressed concern over mining syndicates operating in the area, whom they accuse of destroying their homesteads and farmland.
Villagers said a number of households had been affected, with Jeke, Gombera and Jaji villages being the worst hit.
In Jeke village, four homesteads have been destroyed by syndicates prospecting for gold.
Land degradation is rampant, with no rehabilitation programmes put in place to reclaim mined areas.
A dam serving the three villages has been silted, leaving people and livestock with no source of water.
Villagers are particularly unhappy with the operations of Kuziwakwashe Mining Syndicate and Sunday Mining Syndicate.
When The Herald visited the area last week, some villagers were calling for the removal of the mining syndicates from their area.
Mr Karikoga Muzanenhamo Kanengoni, who lives in Jeke Village, implored authorities to intervene urgently.
“We have been staying in this area for many years and we were surprised when these people came and started mining,” he said. “When we confronted them, they rushed to the Ministry of Mines office in Bindura to register a dispute, saying they were being disturbed.
“When we went to Bindura, we were told that we were supposed to leave the place and allow mining activities to take place. We have been staying here for many decades and this is our ancestral land.”
Mr Kanengoni said they engaged village leaders to try and resolve the issue, but to no avail.
Another villager, Mr Isaac Timothy, said his farmland was destroyed and his houses were also under threat of demolition.
“I stay in Jeke Village in Rosa area and these syndicates came and destroyed my fence,” he said. “I then went to report to the police and no action was taken against them.
“I approached the district administrator’s office and they referred me to the Ministry of Mines in Harare in 2019 where I was directed to the mining director in Bindura who promised to attend to us, but nothing has been done to date.” Mr Timothy said the mining syndicates were using chemicals in their operations, which were affecting livestock.
Jeke Village head Mr Nebart Gombera expressed concern over the mining operations by the syndicates, saying some of them assaulted one of his subjects upon engagement.
“Mining disputes are dealt with by the Ministry of Mines and I only deal with land issues in my area,” he said. “What I can confirm is that they are affecting the livelihoods of these people who are the real owners of the pieces of land.
“I am aware that there are families whose houses have been destroyed, which is an issue of concern to us as leaders.”
Kuziwakwashe Mining Syndicate managing director Mr Wiseman Murayi acknowledged having disputes with villagers, saying they were looking forward to a workable relationship with them.
He said they were properly registered and were legally operating in the area.