By Tonderai Saharo
A MINING syndicate, being run by Masvingo provincial minister Ezra Chadzimira, has reportedly elbowed out President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s brothers from extracting gold at the mineral-rich claim.
Chadzamira is also Zanu PF’s Masvingo provincial chairperson.
The mine; in Rumwanda or Hwendedzo, Masvingo North; is some 60km north east of Masvingo City.
Last month, it was sealed-off by heavily armed police officers on the orders of Chadzimira after hordes of artisanal miners, including Mnangagwa’s brothers and their sons, had besieged the area in search of the precious mineral.
Nearly 100 artisanal miners were also arrested last month and paid $20 000 each at the Masvingo magistrates’ courts on charges of contravening the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
The gold rush at Rumwanda is just a stone throw away from Mnangagwa’s Racemore family farm.
However, a week long investigation by NewZimbabwe.com revealed that Chadzamira led a powerful Zanu PF delegation, which included the war veterans’ provincial leadership to the area before ordering the police to have it closed and arrest all illegal.
After the arrests and removal of the illegal miners, the provincial minister forged alliances with a few connected artisanal miners who included war veterans and some few local villagers.
However, according to reliable sources in the area; Mnangagwa’s younger brothers David, Benson, and their sons Isaac and Stephen; were kicked out of the deal despite repeated pleas to be allowed to be part of the lucrative venture.
After taking over the gold-rich site, Chadzamira, is reported to have appointed one Allen Sibanda, and Zanu PF Masvingo provincial youth chairperson Godfrey Huruva to monitor mining activities at the site.
When the NewZimbabwe.com contacted Chadzimira for comment, he said he was not aware of what was happening in Rumwanda adding the allegations were being peddled by a few people using his name for personal reasons.
“I am not part of the goings on at that (Rumwanda). Some few individuals are using my name to further their own personal interests. In fact, I have ordered people to report anyone who says has been sent by me or my office regarding mining activities in that area,” he said.
However, according to sources, the minister’s personal drivers visit the mining site daily to assess developments and issue orders.
“During the early days, they would arrive driving in marked Zanu PF vehicles, but are now using different top-of-the-range cars,” one of the sources said.
NewZimbabwe.com investigations also proved some of Chadzimira’s haulage trucks are used to transport the gold ore from Rumwanda to Mashava, his home area, for processing.
The few individuals, including war veterans, with permission from Chadzamira to mine in the area have also complained of getting a raw deal from the minister who orders to split into half their profits and share with the politician.
“We are being treated unfairly. We are the first people who started mining at this place but when the minister came everything changed. Whatever we find we split it with the syndicate and they are forcing us to use their hammer mill in Mashava for gold processing,” one local villager, who asked not to be identified, said.
“In fact, we are just doing work for the minister’s syndicate.”
Recent media reports have also linked Chadzamira to illicit gold mining near Masvingo City Council’s main water reservoirs which are threatening to destroy the local authority’s water tanks.
However, repeated efforts by NewZimbabwe.com to get a comment from the Masvingo provincial mines ministry officials were fruitless as they did not respond to questions or phone calls. Also attempts to get comments from affected Mnangagwa’s relatives repeatedly failed.