By Judith Sibanda
Hwange, February 25, 2016 – TRADITIONAL leaders in Matabeleland North have accused mining companies in the province of sidelining locals and employing people from other regions.
Chief Nelukoba from the Gwayi area said chiefs were not happy that firms extracting minerals from the area had a tendency to source for manpower from outside the region.
He said companies mining coal in the Hwange area were not supporting the empowerment of local youths.
“All the companies, especially Makomo Resources, when they came here, they employed some local people and when everything was right and results proved to be good for them, they expelled locals and replaced them with people from outside Matabeleland,” he said.
“We are not happy because these are our resources and we must benefit from them through employment creation.
“All the youths are always loitering at homes without jobs and as l speak, l am having a meeting with Zanu PF youths at my homestead trying to plan projects that can help them tomorrow.
“We want to see them getting equipment through our resources.”
The chiefs are also not happy that four years after the companies pledged various amounts of money to the Community Share Ownership Trust Scheme (CSOTS), only Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) had disbursed the funds.
President Robert Mugabe launched the CSOTS around the country in 2012 as part of government efforts to force mining companies to contribute to the development of areas where they operate from.
Mugabe launched the Hwange scheme in October of the same year where Hwange Colliery, Chibondo Mines, South Mining and Makomo Resources all pledged $600 000 each, while Hwange Coal Gasification promised to give the scheme $500 000.
Gold Mine, Casymyn Mine and China Africa Sunlight also pledged to contribute $1 million each but none of the companies have honoured their pledges.
PPC released $1 to the Umguza district scheme chaired by Chief Ndondo.
Chief Nelukoba, who is an acting chairman of the scheme after the death of Chief Mvuthu of Monde in Victoria Falls, said traditional leaders were not happy with the conduct of mining companies in Matabeleland North.
“We are so disappointed, this is now the fifth year and nothing has been received,” he told RadioVOP.
“They don’t communicate with us. We tried to submit our matter to the courts in Harare but we were told that there was no law that can force the companies to pay because a pledge is just a pledge.
“We feel the failure by the companies to honour their pledges is an insult to the president.”
Chief Wange said they wanted to meet Hwange Rural District Council chief executive officer Phindile Ncube on Friday to discuss the matter.
Hwange Colliery Company’s public relations officer, Tobias Mandoreba said he needed permission from managing director Thomas Makore before he could comment on the matter.
He requested questions in writing but had not responded by end of day on Wednesday.