via Chegutu West MP Nduna under fire | The Herald December 24, 2015
Tendai Mugabe in Chegutu
Government says the alleged trapping of six people at Pickstone Mine in Chegutu reported last week is turning out be a hoax and is keen to question the local legislator, Cde Dexter Nduna, over the matter.
It was reported that at least six illegal miners were trapped in a shaft after the owners of Pickstone Mine “forcibly” backfilled the shafts used by the panners while some were still underground.
The matter was reported to the relevant authorities and a rescue team comprising experts from various arms of Government was commissioned to go and excavate the area with a view to retrieving the bodies.
However, their efforts according to Mines and Mining Development Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga, were frustrated by Cde Nduna with the aid of the illegal miners and the district administrator.
Prof Gudyanga told The Herald that although a rescue team was still on the ground, no shred of evidence had been found to give credence to the alleged trapping.
Sources confided that it had since been established that Cde Nduna was the biggest beneficiary of illegal mining activities at Pickstone Mine and he was using his political influence to protect them.
As such, the alleged trapping saga, according to sources, was a hoax aimed at tarnishing mining operations by Pickstone Mine.
Said Prof Gudyanga: “The local Member of Parliament claimed that there were people who were trapped underground at the mine so we decided to send a team of experts to rescue them.
“We sent the ministry’s chief mining engineer, the inspector of mines and explosives in the province and a director from Mashonaland West.
“They went there on Saturday and decided to excavate somewhere along where the alleged trapping occurred but the MP and the DA stopped the rescue team.
“The team dug up to 22 metres with the assistance of one of the panners, but there was no evidence of bodies or something like clothes to suggest there were trapped bodies underground. There was not even a stench to indicate that there were some decomposing bodies near.
“I personally went there to examine the place and I talked to our experts but we have taken great exception at the conduct of the MP and the DA for blocking our team.”
Prof Gudyanga said contrary to what should be expected from a leader Cde Nduna was encouraging the nomadic panners to block the rescue team.
He said he was keen to talk to Cde Nduna adding that as a legislator, he was not supposed to interfere with mining operations of a legally licensed mine.
Prof Gudyanga said it was the prerogative of the Mines and Mining Development Minister (Walter Chidhakwa) and the President to decide who should mine where in the country.
“He (Cde Nduna) is the one who was actually directing operations there. He is not the mines minister and he is taking the law into his own hands,” he said.
“I want to talk to this MP because he is misleading the nation because he even went on television dancing with the panners celebrating their success in blocking our team.
“We thought that maybe he was doing that for political reasons and we don’t know if these miners are depositing their gold with Fidelity Printers. I don’t think so and it’s a matter that we are already investigating as a ministry. The matter was reported to Cabinet and we are waiting for their decision.”
Sources said Cde Nduna was protecting the illegal miners at Pickstone Mine for personal enrichment.
It was further submitted that Cde Nduna had a bone to chew with Pickstone Mine because the company refused to give his company a $400 000 road refurbishment contract.
Another source said: “The net is closing on him on various criminal charges including making a false report to the police and inciting people to assault the police. He is also receiving royalties from a consortium of panners every month and recently when he went to the Zanu-PF National People’s Conference the panners contributed $3 000 for the trip.
“Surprising, the Pickstone Mine project is the biggest gold project to be initiated in the province this year, but he (Cde Nduna) is on a crusade to tarnish it. Pickstone is possibly the second biggest gold producer in the country, after How Mine.”