Latest News Editor's Choice

News / Local

Manhize folk fret over graveyards

by Staff reporter
03 Dec 2023 at 17:40hrs | Views
VillAgERs in Manhize have asked the Mvumabased Dinson iron and steel Company (Disco) to allow them access to graveyards on land taken over by the Chinese mining company so that they conduct traditional memorial ceremonies for their dead relatives.

Disco, a local subsidiary of Chinese firm Tsingshan, established a plant located in Mvuma and Chivhu which has been touted as Africa's largest integrated steel plant.

The company was this year given an open-ended lease to mine ore and establish a Us$1,5 billion plant on a 12 270 hectare land in Manhize farming communities of Mashonaland East and Midlands provinces.

some villagers from Mushenjere village, who have not yet been relocated, have lost farm land and access to their graveyards located on the land where the steel plant was set up.

Villagers who spoke during a press conference organised by the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) in Mutare last week urged Disco to urgently devise a plan so that they could hold longstanding traditional memorial services for their departed relatives.

"We have a problem that has not been solved in Manhize," said george gwere, a senior citizen.

"We have children and mothers who passed away and the land where they were laid on now falls under Disco's mining field.

"The company has since erected a wall and we are not allowed entry into the graveyards.

"Traditional ceremonies for our departed relatives have not been conducted and we wonder how we are going to do it since the graveyard is now inside Disco's boundary wall."

He added: "if we are going to be relocated we are appealing for our departed relatives to be exhumed so that they may be reburied on the land that we shall be allocated.

"This will help us to conduct the ceremonies as per our custom and tradition."

gwere noted that community members were not against the government or Disco but they were asking to be resettled on land where they are not impacted by negative effects of mining.

section 16 of the csonstitution states that government and all institutions shall respect the cultural values and heritage of this country.

Disco public relations officer Joseph shoko denied allegations that the company has desecrated graveyards for Mushenjere villagers.

"We have not tampered with any grave, we cannot do that as it is taboo according to our traditional culture," shoko told The standard.

"We follow traditional laws of exhumation, we will advertise in the newspapers with the consent of the deceased's family members.

"We cannot do anything without engaging the families or following the government procedures.

"if we have tampered with any grave, the affected families must come and show us.

"Our process is very clear; we engage government through the registrar's office with the affected family," shoko said, adding that Disco will pay for the coffins and, or all costs inccured during ceremonies only after a reburial order has been applied for.

He added that villagers in Mushenjere were in the process of being relocated, hence they would be compensated.

"Obviously they are going to be relocated but there is a government process that we must follow, we cannot do our own things," shoko said.

"The land for relocation can only be identified by government through the Ministry of lands.

"Government will show us the land and then we will talk with the villagers so that we can bulild their structures and then the houses may be commissioned after completion."

CRD director James Mupfumi said the struggles of Manhize villagers were a repeat of what happened in Marange where people were relocated to pave way for the largest diamond mining field.

"These are new areas that we thought government had realised its mistakes and would come up with a sound compensation and relocation framework that encompasses best practices like free-prior and informed consent. We are not seeing any improvement," Mupfumi said.

Source - the standard
More on: #Manhize, #Folk, #Grave