What price do we have to pay for development in other countries and none in ours? Story of granite mining in Mutoko
By :Nobuhle T Mabhikwa
09 November 2017
The black granite mined in the Mutoko area of Zimbabwe is mined and exported to other countries to build buildings like the one shown in fig1. The rock has been heavily mined in the country, especially by foreign nationals, chief among them the Chinese and Croats who own granite quarries in the area. The 13 companies have employed about 3000 workers collectively and majority of the workers are unskilled and lowly paid. The question is what price do the communities in the mining areas must pay for the extraction of the black granite and what do they benefit?
According to constitution of Zimbabwe section 73 (a) everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing, this right has however been violated by the mining company as according to Spelile David (64)’’ The noise coming from the mine machines that run all day long is too much, when bed time comes I must put on my stereo to try and drawn the noise and with that I try to sleep. The mine has offered me $200 usd as compensation and have demanded that I relocate. The money is not enough for me to do that so I have decided to stay.”) thus she has failed to get a peaceful rest at night and there is nowhere she can relocate to.
“The mine workers are not allowed to rest; they do not have time for tea break and do not have lunch either. If one is seen standing taking a break they are fired immediately and they cannot ask questions either as that is automatic dismissal. “Anon. another right violated read more in which every employee is entitled to just, equitable and satisfactory conditions Section 65(4).
The constitution of Zimbabwe section 16(1) states that the State and all institutions and agencies of the government at every level must promote and preserve cultural values and practises which enhance the dignity, wellbeing and equality of Zimbabweans, another right that had been violated by the mining company undermining the cultural values of the people in the Mutoko area. The community members felt their culture was disrespected by the company as they exhumed bodies of their loved ones in the area they wanted to mine. According to a lady who was affected by the process, “We had laid my husband to rest in peace but when the mine companies came we were forced to exhume the bodies. Is was a hurtful breaking process, I had to go through the painful ordeal of burying him and summoning family and friends for support. When the exhumations and reburial were taking place, they were not done with the due respect and the remains of my husband were treated like dog remains with a coffin of poor quality being provided by the company compared to the one he had initially.”
So many rights are being violated as the mining activities are taking place and what has been done to compensate the people? what development has been brought to them and is it worth pursing if there is more damage than development for the people. Mutoko is not the only area that has suffered from the mining activities there are more people in other areas for example Chiadzwa who have been displaced read more . How much more people will suffer while we sit and glorify the so-called “development”. How much people will be moved from their ancestral land in the name of development? Is it even worth pursing???!!!
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) we felt this was the way to tackle the problem however more can be done and people have to come together to bring about the change we want and be the voice for the voiceless,
Nobuhle T Mabhikwa is a programmes intern at Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association. She is interested in wildlife protection . She blogs at Thelma's Blog