Parliament targets tough riverside mining laws

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Parliament is seeking to come up with sustainable solutions to the rampant mining activities happening along rivers across the country that are having a negative impact on food production.

The interventions are expected to help restore the source of livelihoods of the affected communities.

Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Mining Development chairperson and Shurugwi South legislator Cde Edmond Mukaratigwa said Mutare and Mazoe River were among the most affected water sources and Parliament was in the process of coming up with recommendations on how it could be dealt with.

He was speaking during a tour of Premier Estate in Mutasa district where illegal gold miners and private companies are carrying out riverbed mining along Mutare River.

The committee was also investigating the incident where at least 10 illegal miners are suspected to have been buried alive in shafts during a reclamation exercise.

“The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines together with the Portfolio committee on Environment has been sanctioned by Parliament to go around the country in view of the rampant riverbed mining that is occurring here in Penhalonga, Mazoe and other mining areas,” said Cde Mukaratigwa.

“We have an approved outreach programme that will take us throughout the country to actually ascertain the extent to which this has affected our country and come up with mitigatory measures that will enable desiltation of rivers to be carried out in a formal, programmed manner to make sure that we see our rivers working again.”

Premier Estate was originally a farming area where hundreds of farmers were resettled before both legal and illegal mining activities began, leading to massive destruction of the environs around the area.

As a result, Mutare River, which was the main source of water for irrigation, has become silted and is no longer flowing properly.

“We found out that Mutare River has actually been diverted by mining activities and these are well within the proximity of settlements, which means humans, especially the children, livestock and other forms of support to their livelihoods and the ecosystem has actually been put in danger,” said Cde Mukaratigwa.

“The agricultural activities in this area have been relying to a larger extent on water from Mutare River, but mining activities along the river bed will affect food security.”

Cde Mukaratigwa said the economic value expected from the area had been diminished, thus bringing about poverty.

He said villagers had indicated that before 2008, the area was largely reliant on agricultural activities and mining activities had only started in 2008 during the hyperinflationary period the country went through.