By Staff Reporter
Mutasa South – Illegal mining activities in Penhalonga are impacting on agricultural projects at Africa University (AU) as artisanal miners are polluting the main water source used for irrigation purposes, an official has said.
This came out during a community outreach press club session organised by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) recently.
AU representative George Miti said the mining activities in their area have impacted on production at their farm as the main water source, Mutare river is heavily polluted by artisanal miners and the water is no longer suitable for irrigation.
“At the university, we have an agriculture department, and we produce different types of crops and our main water source is Mutare river.
“The river is now heavily silted and polluted, and water is no longer suitable for irrigation purposes,” he said.
Besides siltation, Miti said, the miners were polluting the river with the over-use of mercury which has impact on crops, humans and livestock.
“The other reason why we are pushing for dialogue with the relevant authorities is the over-use of mercury by artisanal miners.
“We can`t continue to use the water for irrigation without addressing the problem of pollution because the chemical will end up being absorbed the crops and later consumed by people,” he said.
He said last year, they realised there were many people who had invaded their premises and were living close to the bridge.
“As we were moving around, we came across used condoms and a portion which they used as a bush toilet.
“The miners have become a threat to our institution as we discovered there were foot roads which were created by the illegal miners into our premises,” Miti said.
Chairperson of Women In mining in Mutasa, Joselyne Musiyazviriyo said the community has also suffered socially, economically and environmentally.
She said many women in the area were engaging in prostitution and students were refusing to go back to school because of illegal mining activities.
“We are having a challenge in this area; women of different age groups are coming from Mutare to sell anything they have. They are peddling their flesh for money increasing the spread of HIV and Aids in our community,” said Musiyazviriyo.
She said many young girls were dropping out of school and being forced into early marriage by the illegal miners.