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Investigation into illegal quarry mine at Khami Ruins

by Staff reporter
14 Mar 2021 at 06:12hrs | Views
AN investigation has been instituted to establish the circumstances surrounding the granting of a licence to a construction company that is setting up structures to mine quarry in Khami national monuments without following due processes.

The development has been described as murky — a "stinking illegality" that has an effect of wiping away the remaining vestiges of where national history could be told. Khami ruins is situated 22 kilometres west of Bulawayo. It was once the capital of the Kalanga Kingdom of Butwa of the Torwa dynasty. It is now a national monument, and became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1986.

Prior to the exposure of the irregularity, the company — Zada Construction was hastily setting up structures to mine quarry in Khami national monuments — itself an expansive granite area with communities surrounding the heritage site stoking fires of criticism and questioning the prudence of granting such a "licence" in an important historical shrine.

The communities argue that the setting up of a quarry mining venture in Khami national monuments is going to set a deleterious precedence on the importance of national history as the mine is said to be targeting the area that contains stone paintings in the Leopard Rock area — a section that juxtaposes Khami Ruins.

The blasting from the mine site is also said to be reverberating and sending shock waves to Khami Ruins which is less than a kilometre away with fears that the blasting will affect the stone only and no mortar historical structure while the noise will not bring comfort to visitors of the otherwise serene environs of the early settlement.

Police officers stationed at Khami Ruins confirmed that the blasting at the site where the company was setting up structures could be heard vibrating at the monuments.

A near scuffle almost erupted last Saturday when villagers of Ward 16 led by one Obert Mangwana gathered at the mine demanding answers on the granting of the licence to the construction company within Khami Ruins.

Mangwana believes there was a dirty exchange of money and blames the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) that owns the land for offering such a site in the first place and for letting the company start construction of structures without following laid down legal processes.

"This could be a good example of how gross corruption is eating away the country's moral fibre. No sane person would want to give away their history. Khami is a known historical monument and a tourist attraction and setting up a quarry mine is like someone setting up a granite mining company in the Matopo, it's a big no. Yes, we need investment but not at the expense of our culture and history. The danger is with officials who don't go on the ground.

They just work from the comfort of their desks and depends on information provided by the investor. Its very bad," he said.

Bulawayo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Hon Judith Ncube told Sunday News in an interview on Tuesday that the company had since been advised to stop all the construction until it was clear how they were granted the licence.

"I was recently made aware of the development and I was shocked. I consulted the relevant departments that also said they were not in the know about the developments. We have therefore ordered that the mine stop the developments forthwith," she said.

Minister Ncube added that there was no environment impact assessment that was carried out and all the due processes were not followed.
"I contacted the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) and they said they don't know of any such mining venture in the Khami Ruins. We are therefore going to investigate how the company got the mining licence without following due processes," she said.

An official from the company whose directors said they were given the papers to carry out the operations by the Bulawayo City Council.

"We were dealing with the city council and we are still in the process of regularising our operations but we just thought it was okay to be doing the construction as we were promised by the officials that everything was above board," he said.

The official was visibly devoid of comprehension on the historical importance of the monuments in an interview with the Sunday News. On the blasting and its effects to the stone only structure, he said they were planning to use a silencer to reduce the noise although they had no plan with the vibrations that are feared to have a disturbing effect on the site.

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe director Dr Godfrey Mahachi said he was disappointed at how the company could go to the extent of setting up structures in a national monument site without their knowledge as the custodians of the place.

"I have been apprised of the developments and I checked if the department had received a report of that nature but there was none. We did not come across any Environmental Impact Assessment report that should go with the heritage impact assessment report.

If the mine is anywhere close to Khami Ruins, like I was told, we will take the necessary steps to ensure the operations or whatever construction that is taking place is halted. That's an archaeological site and we will not allow the country's history to be deleted just like that," said Dr Mahachi.

He added that due processes that also involve his department were supposed to be followed before any structure was set up.
Bulawayo City Council corporate communications manager Mrs Nesisa Mpofu said the company was not supposed to go ahead and set up structures without getting all the necessary papers such as the EIA.

"The EIA is part of the condition of the offer and is done after the offer. They are not allowed to develop without an EIA. If it is not granted, then the offer falls away," she said.

Source - sundaymail
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