Farmers from mining communities have put their hopes in the yet be gazetted Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill to protect their land from invasions by miners.
The absence of clear cut policies has resulted in endless conflicts between farmers and miners amid reports that mining permits are being allocated on land already under agricultural use.
In a latest case of farmer-miner conflict in Shurugwi and Gweru communities, affected women farmer representatives today petitioned Parliament for protection.
“Women have offer letters for the farms they are farming on but there are others coming with mining permits and they are disturbing production. We are not getting proper protection like what is happening in Shurugwi, the miners are digging pits which are left unprotected,” said Thandiwe Chidavarume national coordinator at Women and Land in Zimbabwe.
“As an organization we are fully aware that the Mines and Minerals Act is not being adhered to. We have seen that the Mines and Minerals Act gives more powers to miners over agriculture and this has weakened production in Shurugwi and Gweru,” she said.
There are reports that in some parts of Shurugwi and rural Gweru there have been a surge in miners invading land already occupied by farming communities in pursuit of minerals.
It’s alleged that in most cases, the miners possess mining permits obtained from the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development which have become a source of conflict as farmers here also possess offer letters for the same land.
“As rural women we fill its taking long to come up with a land policy that empowers farmers. It will help us in addressing farmer-miner conflict,” said Chidavarume.
Stakeholders in the agriculture industry have also been pushing for farmers to be given the first right to refusal in the event that a miner with a permit invades farming land, an official from the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Marius Dzinoreva weighed in.
“As part of its proposals to the Office of the President and Cabinet during the crafting of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, we said the farmers should have a first right of refusal,” he said.
According to the country’s laws, cultivated land is not supposed to be pegged for mining and land for mining should not be less than 100 hectares.
However, miners with mining permits are invading arable land as little as 25 hectares in Shurugwi.