The MDC Alliance has accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of abetting a “new colonialism” by Chinese miners who are reportedly evicting entire villages in Mutoko and Uzumba in search of black granite.
Chinese companies Heijin Mining and Shanghai Haoying are accused of displacing hundreds of people from their ancestral lands after obtaining special mining grants from the government.
Addressing a press conference in Harare on Thursday, MDC Alliance secretary for rural mobilisation Happymore Chidziva, said:
This new colonialism offends what our liberators fought for during the liberation struggle. One of the key fights was entitlement to land.
Land is at the core of people’s dignity and their rights must be respected. The message from the communities is that Mnangagwa and the local ZANU PF leadership have sold out our land and country to the Chinese.
The MDC Alliance recently sent a delegation to the two districts in Mashonaland East province to assess the situation on the ground. Said Chidziva:
The delegation made the following findings in Uzumba: the Chinese company Heijin Mining started exploration in 2020 and pegged areas that cover a total of 300 hectares of communal lands and could possibly displace nearly 12 000 people.
Affected villagers were informed of these developments a year after the arrival of the Chinese company.
They were also informed that the majority of them would be displaced and should seek alternative settlement from their traditional leaders.
In Mutoko, the Chinese company started exploration in 2020 and pegged areas to be mined which covers 170 hectares of communal lands.
The affected community had not been formally informed of these developments in total disregard of the communities, their right to information, right to dignity and right to be heard.
Chidziva said “colonial legislation” like the Mines and Minerals Act and the Communal Lands Act partly enabled the displacement of the villagers.
Mutoko and Uzumba are traditional ZANU PF strongholds during elections and the MDC Alliance could sense an opportunity to gain mileage at the ruling party’s expense.