A NASTY fight for mining rights has erupted over gold mining claims in Umfurudzi Game Park where violence is said to be the order of the day between machete-wielding Zanu PF youths from rival camps.
BY RICHARD MUPONDE
It is alleged that the youths have turned the game park into a battleground as they jostle to lay hands on the gold-rich claims which are the subject of a dispute between a miner, John Manga and Shantelle Chikafu who once masqueraded as a member of the First Family.
Chikafu and the marauding youths allegedly have the backing of Shamva North legislator, Oscar Gorerino (Zanu PF), but the MP has distanced himself from the skirmishes.
On Monday, it is reported there were skirmishes at the game park with Zanu PF youths aligned to Gorerino forcing their way to the gold-rich claims after an excavator had been brought for their use.
But Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZimParks) game rangers denied entry of the excavator.
ZimParks director-general Fulton Upenyu Mangwanya has been implicated as the person behind the chaos after stopping operations in the game park despite a provisional order by the High Court giving mining rights to Maungwa.
In his order on April 29, Justice Jacob Manzunzu directed that Maungwa be restored possession of the mine, namely Wickman 23 Mine, which Chikafu and youths had invaded and illegally occupied on April 17.
The order also barred those acting on her behalf or through her from interfering with Maungwa’s possession of the mine.
However, despite the court order, Mangwanya wrote a note to stop mining operations, reportedly in contempt of the court order.
He has reportedly allowed Chikafu and her cartel fronted by Gorerino, to clandestinely conduct mining activities in the game park which has resulted in constant machete fights.
Reports are that ever since Chikafu was barred by the courts from mining, Gorerino has taken over and his younger brother only identified as Obey is managing the operations.
ZimParks rangers and the area manager Power Mupunga are also alleged to have allowed the Zanu PF youths to get into the game park and illegally mine, reportedly based on the directive from Mangwanya.
ZimParks spokesperson Tinashe Farawo yesterday said the authority had nothing to do with the illegal mining activities at the game park.
“If there are any criminal activities happening at Umfurudzi Game Park, they should be reported to the police,” Farawo said.
In an interview yesterday, Maungwa confirmed that there were skirmishes at the mine, adding that at one time he had to phone ZimParks officials to intervene.
“It is true there were fights at the game park with youths wanting to go and loot from my mine. They had brought an excavator and I had to phone ZimParks, but they told me that they had been denied entry,” Maungwa said.
He said since the exposure of the skirmishes by NewsDay, and the involvement of Gorerino in the looting, his parliamentary vehicles have stopped entering the mine in the game park.
“Even the vehicle which had a homemade number plate inscribed #ED2023 has now reverted to its original number plates. Party vehicles used by the youths and Obey have also stopped going to the mine,” he said
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central province chairperson and Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe distanced the party from the illegal activities taking place at Umfurudzi.
“We are not aware of the illegal activities taking place at Umfurudzi using the name of the party. What I can tell you is that Zanu PF does not get funding from illegal activities,” Kazembe said.
National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was not aware of the case and referred inquiries to Mashonaland Central provincial police.
However, the police provincial spokesperson Assistant Inspector Fidelis Zhewu said they were yet to receive the reports of fresh violence at the mine.
“We haven’t received a report of the skirmishes that are alleged to have happened on Monday and today (Tuesday). What we only have is a report of your previous inquiry of skirmishes which took place on Monday last week. There was nothing serious which happened besides a misunderstanding,” Zhewu said.
Chikafu was arrested last month after she had filed a court challenge seeking an order to interdict ZimParks from suspending her mining operations in the game park.
However, Justice Benjamin Chikowero under case number HC5866/20 ruled that the matter was not urgent and it was subsequently removed from the court roll.