Hundreds of villagers in three Mutoko villages face displacement from their ancestral land after a shadowy Chinese company made a spirited attempt to annex the area under a planned lithium mining venture.
The displacements by Zim Win MINING (PVT) LTD are targeting Dzobo, Kanyandura and Marozva villages all under Chief Nyamukoho in the Mashonaland East area.
Last October, a company delegation reportedly camped near Marozva village after discovering rich lithium deposits in the three villages.
The delegation, according to villagers, held several meetings with the local authority and the village head, Jacob Kanyandura while trying to convince them to sign forms on behalf of villagers consenting to vacating the area.
After facing resistance from the village head, the Chinese delegation reportedly resurfaced Wednesday last week at Chipfuti Business Centre armed with a map purportedly proving that the villages were sited within the company’s mining claim.
Determined to pursue the project, some company representatives are said to have visited the homes of the villagers last Thursday still trying to persuade them to sign forms consenting to vacating their land.
The company has promised to compensate the villagers using proceeds to be realised from the planned mining venture.
Villagers have however resisted the move.
Kanyandura said that after villagers refused to bow to Zim Win Mining (PVT) LTD pressure, the Chinese delegation on Sunday approached him with some revised documents trying to convince him to persuade the villagers to sign.
“When I met the Chinese delegation, they requested to be handed back the faulty consent forms they had left for villagers to sign,” he said.
“They insisted the papers were erroneous and presented revised copies they purported guaranteed villagers’ compensation after Lithium exploration which they offered to me to sign and further convince the rest of the villagers to do the same.”
Kanyandura added that the villagers had resolved that no lithium exploration would be done or approved by the villagers without first holding public engagements with the mining company in the presence of the local legislators and councillors to probe the company’s real intentions.
One of the affected villagers who preferred anonymity for fear of victimization said during the meeting, the villagers came up with several resolutions to resist the Chinese’s efforts to displace them.
“After the Chinese’s several efforts to persuade us to leave our homes, we held a meeting and agreed that we will resist the invasion until we got full information about their real intentions.
“We also agreed not to politicise the matter but seek justice as legal residents even if it meant going to court.
“We also agreed that we will not sign any documents as households or families but as a village to avoid any attempts to divide us by the Chinese,” he said.
Sources said that Zim Win MINING (PVT) LTD was now demanding to see minutes from the meeting by the villagers amid suspicions they were seeking new avenues of convincing the villagers to consent to lithium explorations in their homes.