BY VANESSA GUZHA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has ordered the return of a Chinese company, Afrochine, to prospect for coal in the Hwange National Park, barely eight months after the company was booted out after wildlife campaigners protested over “ecological degradation” of the park.
According to a Government Gazette published on April 16, “the Mines and Mining Development minister, with the authorisation of the President, has… issued special grant No 8477 to Afrochine Smelting (Private) Limited, for a period of three years…”
The Gazette did not, however, specify the area of the coal mine.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson Tinashe Farawo said the grant was not within the protected areas.
“Government has pronounced itself that they was no mining in parks,” Farawo said. “That is what government pronounced and there is no mining in protected areas. What the people should understand is, we have six categories that include national parks that are protected areas, botanical gardens and safari areas.
“This is where hunting and mining takes place and it has been taking place for a long time. I suspect the mining grants are in some communities or safari area because government’s position that there is no mining in national parks still stands.”
Government has been under pressure from the Chinese after cancelling the special licence to Afrochine and another Chinese company Zhongxin Coal Mining Group to mine in the Hwange National Park in September last year.
Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe Guo Shaochun reacted by calling the Zimbabwean government to order, urging the State to use mining proceeds wisely to develop its communities.