Concern over Antelope Dam contamination Antelope Dam

Peter Matika, [email protected] 

THE Environment Management Agency (EMA), has launched an investigation into a possible discharge of chemicals into Antelope Dam in Maphisa, Matobo District due to mining activities on the banks of the supply dam, posing a danger to both humans and livestock. 

The dam is the source of domestic water for the Maphisa Growth Point, Arda Antelope Irrigation Scheme and livestock.

Cde Davis Marapira

Farmers raised a red flag during a crop and livestock assessment tour by the Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Deputy Minister, Davis Marapira last week.

They hinted at the possibility of contamination of the water from a nearby mine, alleging that they discovered traces of mercury and cyanide in the water.

“We have raised several complaints to the Matobo Rural District Council about this, but nothing has been done. We are worried about our health since we drink water from this dam,” said one farmer during the meeting.

Environmental Management Agency (EMA)

EMA Matabeleland South provincial manager, Mr Decent Ndlovu said they have since collected samples for testing , following a report.

“We received a complaint and are working on it. Zinwa came from Harare to collect samples that are currently being observed. What we need is for these complainants to show their faces and take us to the site where they allege to have discovered traces of these chemicals because this is a serious matter,” he said.

“Cyanide kills and there should be no sign of life in the dam and we should have had deaths already among the community. These are serious allegations and it is an issue of national interest and security.”

Mr Ndlovu said they are in the process of trying to establish illegal mining activities that are taking place.

During the tour, Deputy Minister Marapira noted that siltation is a major cause for concern during the farming season due to dwindling water levels.

“Siltation is our biggest worry right now and there are several causes of siltation. Some are natural causes, but the most prominent are caused by mining activity, most of which is illegal,” he said.

“If we cannot control such activities as well as illegal settlements, our food reserves and security will be affected. Zimbabwe will then be a permanent importer of grains yet we can farm our own. Our enemy today is siltation, we have to stop anything that has to do with siltation.”

Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)

Deputy Minister, Marapira said artisanal mining has devastating impacts on the environment, such as deforestation, over-stripping of overburden, burning of bushes and use of harmful chemicals like mercury. 

“These environmental impacts are a result of destructive mining, wasteful mineral extraction and processing practices and techniques, used by illegal miners. 

“Such illegal activity results in the massive stripping of land, leading to the destruction of large tracts of land and river systems and general ecosystem disturbance,” he said.

Deputy Minister, Marapira said he was also worried about the colour of the water, which is distinctly brown.

“I have never seen this water in crystal clear form. I wonder if this could be the possible highlight of the suspicion of chemical discharge into the dam,” he said.

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