At least 74 female members of Rass Mining Syndicate in Bindura, who are accusing Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere of “sabotaging their project”, have filed an application seeking the intervention of the court in order to be allowed to return to their claims and carry out mining operations at Kitsiyatota Gold Mine.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The small-scale miners said their mining claims were, in March this year, besieged and seized by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers, who were carrying out instructions from Zanu PF political heavyweights.
In the court application filed early this month, the Women in Mining Trust, which is cited as the first applicant, also accused Kasukuwere of being the brains behind the interruption of the mining activities in their area.
One of the founding members of the mining trust, Loveness Ngumbi, deposed to an affidavit in which she claims there was too much political interference in their mining claims.
“This matter has a long chequered, unfortunate history in so far as such history speaks to political victimisation, gender inequality, injustice and brazen corruption by various individuals in power,” Ngumbi said.
Ngumbi further said the major mining obstructions arose when Kasukuwere allegedly came to the mining site and declared that the mining claim “must be taken over by Zanu PF Mashonaland Province members”.
“Minister Kasukuwere and his cronies created operational structures which consisted of three political structures.
The structures formed an unregistered organisation so-called Bindura Mining Association, controlled by Itai Dickson Mafios, who is commonly declared as a half-brother of minister Kasukuwere,” she said.
“A few weeks ago the applicant [Rass Mining Syndicate] was approached by the ZRP with no court order or any form of ministerial documents and ordered to stop mining on the site, on March 25, 2017.”
Ngumbi added: “Members of the applicant asked the police officers as to why they were ill-treating them against the directions given by the relevant Minister….and the police officers simply declared they were given oral instructions by senior politicians to act in that manner, but did not divulge the names.”
She also said the Rass Mining Syndicate members refused to move away though they were threatened not to carry out any mining operations and that if they were to do so, “they would be assaulted and police dogs set loose on them”.
“During the confusion, it leaked that minister Kasukuwere is also trying hard to rope in Chinese nationals to take over the applicant’s mining projects. To date the fourth respondent [ZRP officers] are on site with vicious dogs and no mining is going on,” she said adding “…so it is mischievous for minister Kasukuwere and his cronies to overshadow and sabotage the project.”
In the application, Women in Mining Trust, Rass Mining Syndicate, Chehumambo Mining Syndicate and Community Mining Syndicate are cited as applicants, while Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidakwa, his permanent secretary, Mashonaland Central Provincial Director and Commissioner-General of Police Augustine Chihuri are cited as respondents.
Early this year over 154 Zanu PF small-scale gold miners in Bindura petitioned President Robert Mugabe to immediately stop Kasukuwere and his brother, Mashonaland Central Provincial chairperson Mafios, from interfering with their operations, saying the duo’s “corrupt practices” were threatening the party’s survival in the forthcoming 2018 elections.
The matter is yet to be set down for hearing.