By Tinashe Mungazi
Coal mining companies in Hwange have defied a last month directive by Zanu-PF to rehabilitate road and water infrastructure and attend to land degradation caused by their operations in the district.
The development has prompted the Zanu PF Hwange District Coordinating Committee (DCC) to seek the intervention of six Cabinet ministers at a crunch meeting penciled for tomorrow.
The mining companies in Hwange include Makomo Resources, Zambezi Gas, Garlpex, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL), Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and Chilota Colliery.
The companies had been summoned for a meeting and ordered to rehabilitate the Sinamatela, Deka and Old Bulawayo roads, which were in a deplorable state owing to the damage caused by their operations.
The Sinamatela road is used by Zambezi Gas and Makomo while the old Bulawayo road that connects to Ngumija and Ingagula townships was damaged by trucks ferrying thermal coal to the power station.
The roads are no longer trafficable and public transporters have been shunning the routes in the process inconveniencing commuters.
The DCC executive led by Councilor Mathew Muleya since roped in Mines and Mining Development Minister, Winston Chitando, Local Government, July Moyo, Transport and Infrastructure Development, Felix Mhona, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality, Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu and Public Service, Paul Mavima. Provincial Affairs minister, Richard Moyo is also expected to attend the high profile meeting.
Cllr Muleya said the companies had undermined the people by ignoring calls to attend to the damage prompting his executive to invite their seniors.
“Following the meeting which was held at the District Development Coordinator’s office last month, all operators were encouraged to participate and assist Hwange Colliery Company in the rehabilitation of infrastructure in the district but some decided to ignore our call as the people of Hwange,” said Cllr Muleya.
“It is against this background that the DCC flanked by senior members of the party in the district have decided to move a step further in support of our people. We strongly denigrate this kind of undermining the will of our people. Let’s not fold our hands and witness the collapse of our district. Our people are in a mourning mood due to serious damage to our roads by coal mining companies who are not willing to repair and the only solution is for you and me to stand and save the interest of our people.”
He added: “The same resources being extracted by these companies should change the face of our people. The DCC has so far decided to invite the ministers for their intervention on Hwange issues as well as the local authority.”
On the other end, Garlpex and Chilota stand accused of damaging the Deka road which is a key link to the tourism area of Msuna along the Zambezi River. The two companies together with Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) also stand accused of polluting the Deka river. The river which is tributary of the Zambezi River is a source of water for villagers and livestock in Chachachunda, Mashala and surrounding areas.
The development comes in the wake of reports of alleged ill-treatment of workers by Chinese companies that have since started operations in the coal-rich town, a move that has been touted as part of the reasons for the invitation of Mavima whose ministry oversees labour and welfare issues.
Villagers have often accused authorities of neglecting them in developmental issues by not consulting resulting in conflicts between them and investors. Currently villagers in the Diki area under Change ward are headed for another showdown after a company, Mugatech, licensed under the Special Grant facility moved on site to begin exploration. This follows scuffles in Dinde where villagers expressed their displeasure at Biefer Investment which they accused of not consulting them thereby threatening their livelihoods.