By Mbekezeli Ncube
THE massive land degradation being experienced in Hwange urban through the illegal but lucrative brick moulding activities has sucked in senior Zanu PF politicians, Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) executives.
NewZimbabwe.com can also exclusively reveal the rampant clay soil poaching activities taking place in the bushy areas of Empumalanga suburb and Don Bosco are being orchestrated by some Zanu PF officials, including councillors and senior executives at Hwange Colliery Company and ZPC based in Hwange.
Zanu PF officials also stand accused of offering transport to ferry the moulded bricks to various destinations including Victoria Falls, Lupane and Bulawayo.
Two Zanu PF councillors who have been implicated in the scam, are reported to own clay soil claims and are illegally allocating land in coal mining town to their colleagues. On their part, HCCL and ZPC’s senior managers are accused of employing individuals to poach for the soil and moulding of bricks.
In an interview, the Greater Hwange Residents Trust (GHRT) chairperson, Fidelis Chima said they denounced such illegal activities by leaders who are supposed to protect the environment and natural resources.
Chima said the illegal activities were already before the courts.
“GHRT strongly condemns clay poaching by councillors. We have currently dragged the two councillors and a council official to court. The court papers will name and shame the perpetrators soon and hopefully, the law will take its course,” said Chima.
NewZimbabwe.com also contacted the Hwange Local Board (HLB) for a comment.
The board said it was also concerned by the rampant clay soil poaching activities saying it was being perpetrated by unscrupulous individuals.
However, HLB said it was not aware if well-connected individuals were involved.
“Allegations about council officials including some of our councillors being involved in clay soil poaching and brick moulding activities haven’t come to our attention yet. If the allegations are true, such actions are unfortunate and regrettable as we expect council officials to be on the lead against such vice,” the board said.
“The local authority is increasingly getting worried at the alarming rate of land degradation being caused by this practice. Clay poaching activities continue to persist mainly due to the ever-increasing housing projects being carried out in Hwange urban and this has resulted in massive deforestation and proliferation of open pits.”