Rights Group Challenges Authorities To Stop Waste Disposition Along Tokwe River
13 February 2023
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By A Correspondent

A Masvingo rights Group has lamented the rampant water pollution in Mashava which has been attributed to the upsurge in both legal and illegal mining activities in the area since the discovery of gold along the banks of the Tokwe River and the surrounding areas .

The activities are taking place near the now defunct Gaths Mine.

The ever-increasing gold prospecting and mining activities in the Mashava area along the gold belt that begins at the defunct Gaths mine in Mashava running along the Tokwe River pose risks to local residents.

These mining activities are taking place adjacent the Masvingo-Mashava highway close to Tokwe River a tributary to the recently constructed Tokwe-Mukosi dam.

The illegal gold mining activities conducted by unlicensed artisanal miners do not follow the safe mining regulations as stipulated by the Environmental Management Agency since there is no regulation or government supervision of these mining activities.

The illegal artisanal miners are dumping mining waste into the Tokwe River which include mercury, cyanide, arsenic, lead and mercury. These inorganic pollutants have negatively affected water quality for the rural communities dependent on the Tokwe River for their survival.

Thus, the water for household consumption is now polluted and unsafe for drinking even after traditional water purification since the pollutants are inorganic.

This has significantly increased the distance walked by women to fetch water from community boreholes which remain very few presently thus increasing the time they spend fetching water.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a local resident said : ” We are facing the risk of contracting cancerous diseases as a result of pollution.

Something must be done before it’s too late. Authorities have to take action as a matter of urgency.”

Sustainable fishing projects face a potential decline in production as the aqua-life project’s survival is under threat and likely prejudicing the livelihoods of more than 100 households.

Communities along the river bank also depend on the river water for their livestock’s consumption and there is potential long term effects of mercury, arsenic, cyanide and lead poisoning of livestock most importantly cattle which remain a traditional store of wealth for most rural communities.

The situation is being exacerbated by the recently constructed Zimbabwe Zhongxin Chrome Smelting Company which will likely be dumping carcinogenic waste into the Tokwe River.

These wastes will expose women and girls dependent on the river for drinking water, household use and fishing to cancers and other health hazards associated with heavy metal poisoning.

Communities in Mashava and the Rights group are urging the Government of Zimbabwe to consider the plight of the people in Mashava and to ensure that the environment is conserved for many generations to come.