THE success of the land reform exercise championed by President Mugabe at the turn of the millennium has come through many forms across the country, particularly in the field of agriculture, but for a community in Matabeleland North Province’s Bubi District it has manifested itself through mining.
The once laid back 10 villages, whose occupants were, at the height of the land reform programme, given pieces of land at Dromoland Farm are now enjoying the benefits of the agrarian revolution through mining. This follows the discovery of gold deposits, a development that has dramatically changed their lives.
Dromoland Farm located about 12km from Inyathi Centre, which itself is 60km from Bulawayo, was officially handed over to the people of Matabeleland North by President Mugabe when he officially launched the fast track land reform exercise in the province in 2000.
Dromoland is endowed with a variety of wildlife species, good soils and receives fairly good amounts of rainfall every year but it is the inception of gold mining in May this year that has dramatically changed the economic fortunes of the villagers. The area is now the talking point for many as the economic activities have been broadened from farming, wildlife projects through the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) initiative to mining.
Last week on Wednesday, a Sunday News crew visited the mining concern, Damba Mine 10 and found scores of people busy at work looking for the precious mineral. When one gets into the mining concession, which is barricaded by a perimeter fence one’s eye is drawn to the parking bay reserved for workers where dozens of cars are parked. The cars belong to villagers, thanks to the philanthropic displays by the director of Damba Mine 10, Mr Andrew “Bilebile” Moyo.
After stumbling on the vast gold deposits at the site, Mr Moyo (40) unselfishly set aside eight claims to the villagers with proceeds earmarked for different developmental projects in the community. The developmental projects were clustered into sectors such as education, water reticulation, traditional leadership, war veterans and women’s programmes.
Mr Moyo, a local who was resettled in Dromoland with his family said he set aside the claims for the community so that proceeds of the mine cascade to all the people.
“After many years of toiling as a gold panner and also having worked for established mines such as Isabella, which is located here in Bubi District my team and I finally found something here. At first it was not easy as we had to do a lot of research with institutions such as the University of Zimbabwe to establish this mine. We also did all the necessary paperwork with the Ministry of Mines and Environmental Management Agency (EMA) as part of registering our mine,” said Mr Moyo who originally comes from Nkayi District.
Mr Moyo said he saw it fit to cede some of the claims to the community as that would spur on development and believes such a gesture is not misplaced as it would make sure that everybody benefits from his mining activities. In other words he has designed his own community share ownership scheme.
He expressed hope that through his philanthropic work the community would be empowered.
“If it was not for the land reform programme, which is a brainchild of President Mugabe and his Government, we would not be here today. We would not be allowed to set foot on this piece of land on which we are currently standing as we would be called trespassers, but through the efforts of our
President, Cde R G Mugabe we are now owners of our resources, so we have to use them wisely and share with other members of the community,” said Mr Moyo.
“Through ceding claims to the community by setting up various committees we are developing our area. I want to make sure that our schools are well equipped and children learn under conducive settings, that the community has access to clean and safe water. I am glad that our mining activities are benefiting quite a number of people.”
Besides the mining activities, Mr Moyo has also embarked on a horticultural project at his homestead which is fed by a 10 000-litre Jojo tank. As part of carrying on board the community he has allowed 16 women to join the project and is sharing his fields with them where they are growing a variety of produce such as green vegetables, onions and covo.
The community projects initiated by Damba Mine 10 have excited the community with the chairman of the village heads, Cde Morgan Ndlovu praising Mr Moyo for having a good heart.
“I think it is God who planned this. Through the ceding of claims to different groups of people, Mr Moyo has created employment and empowered his community. Despite doing all these things, uMoyo has remained humble and is always seeking advice from us. We also have to thank the Government of R G Mugabe because it is the one that allowed him to mine through its empowerment policies,” said Cde Ndlovu.
“I am sure if the elections were to be held today, Zanu-PF will win big in our area because everybody is happy here. People understand that we are having all these economic benefits because of the Zanu-PF Government.”
Mr Macebo Moyo who represents the five primary schools which are Oakland, Nsango, Fairbeans, Dromoland and Mvundla said through their claim whose proceeds go towards the development of infrastructure at the schools, the situation was changing for the better.
“We have many mines dotted around this district, but they are not doing this. Through the efforts of Damba Mine 10 some developments are already showing at our schools. We have in this short period of time managed to buy things like door and window frames as well as panes for the classrooms,” said Mr Moyo.
The chairperson of the water committee, Mr Herbert Moyo picked up the conversation and said: “We have stepped our water projects by repairing pipes. We are also putting taps at strategic points which will cover a pipeline that stretches for a distance of 15km. We are now also able to pay Zesa as our pumping system uses electricity. Very soon all the 10 villages here will have access to clean and safe water.”
With the elections set for next year, the Zanu-PF chairperson for Ntamoyenkunzi District which covers the 10 villages, Cde Fred Matshiphisa Nkomo said what the miner, Mr Moyo was doing dove-tails with the Government’s economic blue print programme, Zim Asset.
“Through the ceding of claims Mr Moyo has created hundreds of jobs for the locals and people from other parts of the country who are now making a living from this gold mine. It’s unusual for a businessperson to open his business to their people. He has also used thousands of dollars registering the claims, pegging and buying equipment so that our people benefit,” said Cde Nkomo.
The councillor for the area, Clr Sithembiso Ndlovu said what was happening at the mine fulfilled what President Mugabe said when he handed Dromoland to the people of Matabeleland North about 17 years ago.
“President Mugabe promised us when he launched the land reform programme on this farm that this area will be a place of milk and honey. Now everybody is happy here, our children have bought cars and it is not every day that you can see about 50 villagers driving around in their own cars, it’s unusual,” said Clr Ndlovu.
“The good thing is that we are also working as team here and these are the benefits of the land reform programme. I can safely say as Zanu-PF we have already won the elections here in Bubi because we are all happy.”
To show that the mine is fast-growing, it has within its ranks an intern from the Midlands State University (MSU), Miss Privilege Dube, a History and International Studies under-graduate who is doing most of the administrative work. Miss Dube whose dissertation topic is labour, compound system and capital said she is enjoying working with the community.
“I am learning a lot here and definitely I have something to take with me back to MSU,” she said.
On Friday Damba Mine 10 organised seven vehicles, which included two conventional buses to ferry people to Lupane where President Mugabe addressed youths during the Presidential Youth Interface Rally.