BY RICHARD MUPONDE
The Harare High Court has ordered a Chinese company to stop chrome mining activities in the Mavuradonha Wilderness in Guruve.
The mining activities were affecting the operations of tourism company, Varden Safaris (Pvt) (Ltd), which is building a four-star lodge and game breeding for the tourism activities.
The government gave the Chinese company, Afrochine Smelting, and Lebanmon Investments, mining rights in the national monument, which is on the verge of being conferred World Heritage Site status.
The company was given an environmental impact assessment (EIA) certicate on May 26 this year.
Varden Safaris Pvt Ltd approached the court seeking an interdict stopping Afrochine Smelting and Lebanmon Investments from conducting their operations, which disturb its tourism venture.
The order by Justice Benjamin Chikowere was granted on July 1 this year by consent.
“It is ordered by consent that: The 1st (Afrochine Smelting) and 2nd (Lebanmon Investments) respondents be and are hereby interdicted from entering the gate that leads to the applicant’s game breeding and botanical reserves without applicant’s prior consent, Chikowero ordered.
“The 4th resepondent (Muzarabani Rural District Council) be and is hereby ordered to ensure restoration of the route that avoids the applicant’s game breeding and botanical reserves within two weeks of the granting of this order”
Battle lines have been drawn between villagers, businesspeople in Guruve, Muzarabani and surrounding districts and the two companies, Afrochine Smelting and Lebanmon Investments after the government granted the company the right to mine in Mavuradonha..
Villagers and businesspeople, who have invested in the national monument in tourism are bitter over the government decision as the companies were given mining rights and an EIA certificate reportedly without consultations, raising suspicion of underhand dealings.
The construction of the four-star lodge in the wilderness had been stopped as it was situated at the heart of the two companies’ mining area and could be demolished despite millions of dollars that were invested in the project.
The Mavuradonha Wilderness was gazetted as a national monument in 2017 and has been reduced to a shell due to rampant illegal mining, illegal settlers, poaching and deforestation.
Mavuradonha Wilderness, which stretches along Guruve, Muzarabani, Pfura, and Mbire Rural District Council, has the potential to be the tourism hub of Mashonaland Central.