By Matabeleland North Correspondent
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to visit Hwange in a tour of nine coal mining and coke making companies this Thursday and Friday.
The tour was initially planned for last March but was suspended due to the devastating Covid-19 outbreak.
Mines Minister Winston Chitando and Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube visited the coal mining town last month where they visited the same mines in preparation for Mnangagwa’s tour this week.
However, Mnangagwa is also likely to face an angry and impoverished Hwange community which is also agitated by the actions of the Chinese mining companies.
The companies have been accused of causing land and water pollution and destroying the road network and failing to plough back to the community.
He will also come face-to-face with hundreds of former Hwange Colliery Company workers who have been evicted from company houses and are living in the open with their property as the coal mining company desperately seeks to send them away despite their demands to be paid outstanding severance packages using the United States dollars.
According to the itinerary, Mnangagwa will Thursday tour Western Areas where he will do a groundbreaking ceremony before touring South Mining’s new coking plant project which he is expected to officially open.
On the same day, he will also tour Jinan/Tutu Coking Coal Project and Hwange Colliery Company’s Chaba Mine.
The next day, he will tour Dinson Colliery, the contentious Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coking Company (ZZCC coke plant), Zambezi Coal, and Gas Mine, Makomo Resources and the ZZEE power plant where he is expected to sign some agreements with the mine authorities.
Recently, Lukosi villagers in Hwange’s Ward 20 approached the Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) complaining about air and land pollution caused by ZZCC trucks along Nekabandama road, causing health hazards to homesteads, schools, clinics, and irrigation schemes.
This follows similar concerns about water pollution on Deka River by the mining companies that discharge effluent into the water body, killing livestock and fish downstream.
Lukosi villagers wrote a petition demanding answers from ZZCC.
“We are concerned that food security is being compromised as the dust has affected the Lukosi Irrigation Scheme and yields have gone down over the years. The dust has also affected Lukosi primary school and Lukosi hospital,” part of the petition reads.
“We beseech the HRDC to exercise its constitutional role and ensure the company engages in dust suppression, secure sustainable development through surfacing of the road leading to Zimbabwe Zhongxin Coking Company plant in the shortest possible time and ensure that the company fulfills its obligation to the community as per their pledge during consultations with the community.”