Fairness Moyana, Hwange Correspondent
COAL mining companies in Hwange have been taken to task over the pollution of Deka River that resulted in hundreds of fish and 21 head of cattle dying last December.
Speaking during a recent stakeholders’ feedback meeting on the issue, organised by Basilwizi Trust, Hwange Rural District Council chair, Councillor Siphiwe Mapfuwa said responsible mining companies must bear the burden of damage to the environment.
“This issue is serious and needs to be addressed urgently. We cannot keep quiet while these companies cause havoc in our communities. Let’s correct this anomaly. These companies are risking people’s lives in pursuit of profits,” she said.
“They even forego their corporate responsibility role and because of such practices we are losing integrity as office bearers as we are being accused of getting bribed at the expense of our people and the environment.”
Clr Mapfuwa called on all stakeholders and affected communities to follow the matter closely and ensure accountability and implementation of proper resolutions that include drilling of boreholes and rehabilitation of run down infrastructure such as the Deka road, schools and clinics.
Participants noted that companies in the area were deliberately flouting environmental laws and ignoring recommended environmental impact assessment guidelines in pursuit of profit. Some said responsible companies have a tendency of disappearing once the community starts feeling effects of pollution.
Hwange Colliery Company, Chilota Colliery, Coalbrick Mine, Zimbabwe Power Company and South Mining discharge effluent from their operations after treating into the Deka River.
Villagers in Mashala ward, Hwange district claimed that they lost 21 head of cattle in the aftermath of the Deka river pollution, which killed hundreds of fish last year amid reports of some people suffered experiencing swollen stomachs.
Lead researcher and technician, Mr Clever Mpofu said the research acknowledged that there was a likelihood that the said pollution was as a result of acid mine drainage (AMD). He said their study revealed that there was a high concentration of sulphur at a swamp upstream that fed into the river.
Chief Whange said there was urgent need to address the issues before they got out of hand and called for engagement with critical players such as miners.
“It’s better to put a stop to this now before it gets out of hand. This problem has been there for a long time and mining companies should avoid shortcuts in addressing environmental issues,” he said.
Basilwizi Trust programmes manager, Mr Maxwell Dodo Munenge, said the purpose of the meeting was to appreciate and agree on action points on joint mutually beneficiary monitoring initiatives for improved welfare of communities. The mining companies present resolved to revive the Coal Miners and Processors Forum as part of discussing, sharing and collectively addressing impacts of mining in communities.