BY NIZBERT MOYO
Villagers in Gwanda North in Matabeleland South are up in arms with their local rural district council for licensing a yet to be established mining company to extract quarry from the sacred Dambashoko mountain without consulting them.
Dambashoko village head Themba Sibindi told Sunday Southern Eye that unknown men visited the area recently armed with papers they claimed were signed by the Gwanda rural district council allowing them to do quarry mining.
Sibindi said contrary to their claims, the papers showed that they were supposed to conduct mining in the Insindi area in ward 21 instead of ward 2 where the mountain is located.
“They came here and these men were new to me. They showed me letters, which they said were signed by the Gwanda RDC and Chief Mbiko Masuku,” he said.
“I queried this and asked them why they came to me when everything had been signed by my superiors and also papers indicated that they were supposed to go to Insindi instead of Dambashoko and they gave me an unclear answer.’’
Sibindi said when the company started drilling at the mountain, the workers were chased away by alert villagers who had already started guarding the area after getting news of the mission.
“They told us that they will come back soon to blast the mountain after having drilled holes, but this mountain is sacred,” Sibindi said.
“There are granaries on top of the mountain and traditional pots, which were left by our forefathers.
“What will happen to them if this mountain is destroyed?
“We will not fold our hands and allow strangers to destroy our natural resources.”
He added that the mountain was close to homesteads and a school, which have to be relocated if the mining activities were to go ahead.
“Why Dambashoko mountain when there are so many mountains in Gwanda?,’’ asked Sibindi.
Ward 2 councilor Zwelibanzi Mpofu said she was aware of the issue and suspected that the whole mission was being driven by an Insindi villager only identified as Christopher and one Banda from government offices in Gwanda.
“Even our children in the diaspora are now aware of this and they are eagerly awaiting to see the outcome. They are constantly in touch with us,’’ said Mpofu, adding that Chief Masuku could have signed the papers believing that the mining activity was meant to take place in the Insindi area not Dambashoko.
Gwanda RDC natural resources officer Sijabuliso Masango said they were aware of the issue, but denied allegations that council approved the mining activities.
“We have been given a hint on the people behind the issue,” Masango said. “We will have a meeting soon with all stakeholders to discuss the matter.”