A traditional leader has taken President Emmerson Mnangagwa to task over the “dubious” issuing of an Exclusive Prospecting Order (EPO) to mining giant Premier African Minerals in his area without following due process.
Chief Jahana of Insiza wrote a letter to Mnangagwa objecting to the mining exploration of lithium in Fort Rixon, saying the project will not benefit Matabeleland locals.
He argued that the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development did not even consult him and he only got to know about the venture from state media. The letter dated 14 May read:
In your November 24, 2017 acceptance speech as President of the Second Republic, you condemned the mortgaging of Zimbabweans future through the dubious issuance of mining EPOs, national strategic business permits licenses to foreigners, 99-year farm leases to foreigners without following due diligence and processes, which includes the grassroots consultation background check of beneficiaries and national security vetting.
It’s exactly 42 months later after you promised not to mortgage the future of Zimbabweans but the situation in my area proves you otherwise.
Mining EPOs are issued by your offices after you have consented hence this letter to you.
Take note that the due process of issuing a Lithium exploration EPO at Fort Rixon, in our area of jurisdiction with Chief Sibasa was not followed.
As chiefs, custodians of this area we only read about this mining venture from state media.
The chief accused Mnangagwa of mortgaging the future of his people without their consent. He said:
As chiefs, we feel the future of our subjects and Matabeleland at large has been mortgaged without our and their consent, knowledge and with them not benefitting since the company involved has its labour force from outside Insiza District and Matabeleland.
The chief also raised the issue of the late Filabusi Chief Vezi Maduna who engaged the president’s office about the same concern and was reportedly harassed by suspected state agents. He said:
Despite all the shortfalls by your office I mentioned in this letter I remain committed to saving my country in my best capabilities and respecting the Office of the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe.
When the late Chief Maduna raised his concern and reservations on the issuance of mining EPOs across Matabeleland to your office, he was trailed by a number of unregistered vehicles and intimidate by unknown individuals thus the response he got from his letter to you until he died, I pray that with contents of this letter I won’t face the same fate as Chief Maduna.
Chief Jahana urged President Mnangagwa to revert to the normal processes of issuing all mining EPOs in Matabeleland.
The letter was also copied to the Commander of the ZDF, General Phillip Valerio Sibanda and Matabeleland South Provincial Chiefs Council.