Two Government Ministers, Winston Chitando and Larry Mavima were last week part of a delegation at a ritual ceremony to appease ancestral spirits and welcome a Chinese company that is establishing a US$1 billion iron ore mine.
The 4 000 hectare Manhize Escarpment where Tsingshan Holdings is establishing the mine is at the boundaries of Mash East, Midlands and Mash West and is also known to be rich in gold.
The rituals were accompanied with traditional beer that was brewed at the homestead of acting Chief Chirumanzu born Fidelis Mudzengi. Chief Chirumanzu said that there will be another ceremony again in a week’s time which will this time be attended by representatives of the Chinese company.
At the peak of last week’s rituals, Chirumanzu ‘spoke’ to the ancestral spirits and appealed to them to “welcome these children” who had come to mine iron ore. He said this while gulping traditional beer.
After the rituals which started at around 10am and ended at 2pm, the delegations went on a tour of the area where mining will take place.
Speaking during the same occasion, Mavima pleaded with the community to accept the new venture as it is going to benefit them through employment and infrastructure development. He warned that the investment will be taken elsewhere if the villagers remain hostile to the Chinese.
Tsingshan Holdings is also going to establish a 600MW power plant.
The Chinese have become unpopular on the African continent for exploiting resources and leaving the host countries and the communities poorer. Unlike investors from Europe, they are notorious for ill treatment of workers, for not ploughing back into the community and paying little attention to environmental issues.
The acting District Development Co-ordinator Charlton Murove was the master of ceremony. Chirumhanzu – Zibagwe MP, Prosper Machado was also present at the ceremony.
Some 800 villagers who are supposed to be evicted from the area have expressed their unwillingness to move.
Civic society groups including the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) have since started pursuing a legal route to stop the eviction of the villagers.