BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has described the planned eviction of Kaseke villagers in Uzumba, Mashonaland East province, by a Chinese mining company as illegal.
Heijin Mining Company is pushing to evict hundreds of Kaseke villagers from their ancestral land, after it was allegedly given a special mining grant to extract black granite on land covering 300 hectares by the government.
ZLHR lawyer Tinashe Chinopfukutwa, on behalf of the villagers, wrote to Mashonaland East provincial mining commissioner and to the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) demanding clarification on the existence of a prospecting licence authorising the miner to conduct mining activities in the area.
In the letter, dated September 2, 2021, Chinopfukutwa argued that if Heijin was granted a prospecting licence, then the pegging of Kaseke village was unlawful as the company could not exercise any of the rights conferred in terms of the prospecting licence on communal land, without the consent of the villagers.
“To that end, we kindly request if any prospecting licence was granted to Heijin Mining Company and if so, we kindly request for a copy thereof,” Chinopfukutwa said in the letter.
“In the event that a prospecting licence was granted to Heijin Mining Company, it is our considered view that the pegging of Kaseke village is unlawful for the following reasons. In terms of section 31 (1) of the Mines and Minerals Act, a holder of a prospecting licence shall not exercise any of the rights conferred in terms of the prospecting licence on communal land without the consent of the occupier.
“The pegging of Kaseke village without the consultation and consent of the occupiers is therefore unlawful. Further, in terms of section 31(1)(h) of the Mines and Minerals Act, no holder of a prospecting licence can proceed to peg communal land occupied as a village without the written consent of the rural district council of the area concerned.”
The lawyer also claimed that the company could not conduct mineral prospecting or peg the village before approval by EMA.
Since the beginning of this year, hundreds of villagers in different parts of the country have been evicted, while others are yet to be displaced, to pave way for Chinese mining projects.