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» » Illegal mining threatens to destroy Mutare River, AU


Illegal mining along Mutare River

Felix Matasva

MUTARE - Africa University (AU) has been challenged to conduct action research to mitigate the negative impact of illegal small scale mining in Penhalonga, Odzi and Old Mutare; TellZim News can report.

Chaotic artisanal gold mining operations are threatening the environment and resettled farmers are now at great peril due to pollution of Mutare River.

The river is a source of water for irrigation purposes in Mutasa South constituency but with high levels of unemployment in the area, all roads seem to lead to Odzi, Old Mutare and Penhalonga where illegal mining activities are rampant.

As a result, the presence of gold in this part of the country has become a curse to many farmers who produce food and cash crops like maize, tobacco, wheat and potatoes for supply to markets in Mutare city and beyond.

Speaking at a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ)-facilitated community reporting press club discussion in Penhalonga recently, Mutasa South MP Regai Tsunga said universities were significant institutions that must devise solutions to problems encountered by the country.

"Institutions of higher learning must not just identify problems in society but they must also engage in action research that will provide solutions. AU has already identified environmental degradation, prostitution, transactional sex among youths and drug abuse as some of the effects of gold mining in areas surrounding its campus.

"The university must then develop alternative solutions and pick out the best that are progressive in moving our country forward. As much as gold miners are accruing profits from extraction of natural resources, we must ensure that there is environmental sustainability.

"An all stakeholders meeting must therefore be convened in order to find a sustainable solution to effects of mining for the benefit of AU and Mutasa South constituency," said Tsunga.

AU Dean of Students, George Miti later told TellZim News that the university faced an existential threat due to reckless mining activities.

"We believe in engagement as an institution and we engaged artisanal miners operating close to our campus. We shared knowledge with artisanal miners about chemicals they use, dangers associated with unprotected pits and reproductive health issues. While they are trying to eke out an honest living, they are also endangering the same livelihoods," said Miti.

He said AU’s farming operations were now in jeopardy due to pollution of Mutare River by gold miners in Penhalonga and Old Mutare along Mutare River.

"The water is no longer safe for crop irrigation as it is too muddy thereby affecting our pumping system on a daily basis. The farm provides employment to community members and it produces a lot of major food crops to Manicaland and the country at large. We fear for the health of our customers as we suspect that miners are disposing mercury in Mutare River,” said Miti.

Penhalonga Residents and Ratepayers Trust (PRRT) chairperson Westone Makoni said there was need for an inter-ministerial taskforce that will intervene in order to rectify problems induced by mining.

"Redwing Mine has got a new contractor who has moved a lot of earth at Liverpool. As residents of Penhalonga, we fear that when the rains come, all that soil will be deposited into Mutare River. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) must intervene before the river gets destroyed," said Makoni.





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