BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Prominent Harare businessman and car dealer Paul Chenjerai, popularly known as Paza Buster is embroiled in a bitter mine wrangle with a Mutoko villager after he encroached into his homestead in search of gold.
The homestead owner, Charles Gumbeze (43) of Chinjere Village, under Chief Nyakatungure is accusing Chenjerai, through his Tabatana Mining Syndicate, of directing his underground shaft into Gumbeze’s homestead.
The dispute has resulted in Gumbeze being arrested alongside Godfrey Matuso. They spend three weeks in remand prison for alleged illegal gold mining as the gold war rages.
Gumbeze on Friday confirmed that Tabatana Mining Syndicate was mining at his homestead without his consent or the requisite papers.
“This man is disturbing me. He is mining right in my homestead. His shaft goes for more than 100m underground into my territory,” Gumbeze said.
“I was arrested after we clashed and spent three weeks and two days in remand prison. I was accused of illegal gold mining, but that was not the case.”
Gumbeze added that the mining operations were continuing despite Tabatana Mining Syndicate having been ordered to stop by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA).
“He was ordered to stop mining because he has no papers, but we are surprised he is still mining, especially at night,” he said.
“The illegal miners are using explosives and the smoke engulfs my homestead affecting us health wise.
“It’s a pity that we have people who defy orders and get away with it.”
According to an order addressed to Tabatana Mining Syndicate by EMA dated September 23, mining operations in Chinjere village have been stopped.
“Following an inspection which was conducted at Tabatana Mine by the Environmental Management’s inspectors on September 23, 2021, it was observed that, your mine is still operating despite being issued with an order to stop until being issued with an EIA certificate by the agency.
“That order issued on 18 December 2020 still stands and should be complied with,” reads the order seen by this publication.
The mine wrangle has resulted in nine villagers, most of whom are Zanu PF supporters, being arrested and accused of illegal gold mining.
The villagers have accused Chenjerai of instigating their arrests.
Tabatana Mining Syndicate has since been fined heavily for operating without an EIA certificate.
“As it stands, our livelihoods have been affected,” Gumbeze said.
“We grew up mining in our village, but we have people who had the guts to invade our ancestral land, without papers, and still do whatever they want.
“We have a lot of people who depend on this trade, but if we try to mine we are arrested.
“We are operating as Simboti Mining Syndicate and we have 70 youths who have been surviving from our operations.”
In 2019, government reportedly ordered police to stop harassing and arresting of villagers for illegal gold mining Mutoko, Mudzi and Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe.
Chenjerai could not be reached for comment yesterday.