By Columbus Mavhunga
Zimbabwe has clamored for outside investment in recent years, but villagers north of the capital are resisting a Chinese mining project they say will spoil the environment and fail to bring them much benefit.
The villagers are from Domboshava, a rocky area north of Zimbabwe’s capital, and they are disputing a Chinese company’s decision to start quarry mining.
Seventy-year-old Florence Nyamande is among those saying no to the proposed project by Aihua Jianye Company.
“The Chinese are the money mongers of Zimbabweans. They take riches here, they take it to China. They do not develop our places. So we do not need them here,” Nyamande said. “Seriously with a deeper heart, seriously with a mind, we are disappointed. We said ‘No’ and ‘No’. That is multiplicated (multiplied) ‘No.’”
The villagers do not think Aihua Jianye will create the 500 jobs in the area it promised. They also say the quarry mining will leave large ponds filled with dirty water.
Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Information Energy Mutodi – who is the parliament member for the area – is also against the $500 million quarry mining project.
He says he is not going against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s mantra that “Zimbabwe is open for business.”
“It is open to business, but not to business that is gong to affect our environment. We want to preserve the environment. We want our community to develop, yes. But let our environment remain intact. We cannot have a situation come here take the proceeds, enjoy it in other countries, yet our people remain poor,” Mutodi said.
Mutodi notes the Chinese company has advertised for only 40 jobs in the area, less than one-tenth of what it promised.
Percy Mudzidzwa, whose company GeoGlobal Environmental Solutions is representing the Chinese firm, rejects allegations that 20,000 people would be affected by the 33 hectare mining project.
Some locals say the project will affect a graveyard and a natural spring. Mudzidzwa says that is not so.
“Not even a grave is going to be moved. But there is a misconception. We proposed that that the graves be fenced. There is a spring, which is above the grave site, we proposed that the spring be fenced too,” Mudzidzwa explained.
Now the project waits for the country’s Environmental Management Agency to make a final call if the Chinese company can go ahead.