Midlands provincial mines office under spotlight for corruption

6 mins read

Brenna Matendere

Harare—The Midlands provincial mining director’s office headquartered in Gweru has come under the spotlight for an alleged raft of corruption and cronyism.

This follows the production of a fresh and damning report by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-SA) alleging numerous malpractices under the nose of the provincial mining director (PMD).

The Kwekwe-based anti-graft watchdog’s report accuses the provincial office of originating fake mining licences, use of falsified location coordinates, preferential treatment, bribery and illegitimate seizure of claims from those that cannot afford to pay bribes.

The current PMD, Tariro Ndlovu, however dismissed the allegations, insisting that the ACT-SA report—based on investigations stretching back to 2018—was flawed.

“ACT-SA has from 2018 been receiving several reports that the PMD’s office was captured by some individuals (including some political elites, rich miners, peggers etc.), who dictate how the office operates and how decisions are made.

“In addition, there are reports of the existence of syndicates involving officials at the PMD’s office that snatch the poor and less-connected people’s mines. This corruption continues…with impunity,” says ACT-SA.

The organisation indicates in the report that it also made physical visits to the provincial mining offices and observed that the PMD offered preferential treatment to certain visitors.

The watchdog said the apparent cronies of mining officials did not join queues and spent unusually long time in the offices, resulting in less privileged visitors sometimes returning home without being served.

“They chat and laugh with the PMD for long hours whilst some poor miners and all those not paying bribes who would have travelled (long distances) from places as far as Gokwe North and Mberengwa wait and sometimes fail to see the PMD,” reports ACT-SA statement.

Obert Chinhamo, the ACT-SA director, told NewsHub that his organisation had noted high levels of disgruntlement among actual and potential miners and added that the public was accusing “almost everyone at the Midlands PMD’s office” of corruption.

“It is alleged that the entire PMD’s office feeds on corruption, and all those refusing to pay bribes suffer. Their applications take long to be processed. In some cases, rich mining claims are taken and given to all those who pay bribes.

“Furthermore, registered peggers pay bribes to expedite processing of their clients’ applications. The office is in a mess. The new minister, Hon Soda Zhemu, has a lot of work to do to clean the entire ministry,” said Chinhamo.

Zhemu took over from Winstone Chitando when President Emmerson Mnangagwa shuffled his cabinet after the August 2023 elections.

The ACT-SA director further alleged that officials put clients under covert duress to pay bribes by withholding or deliberately misplacing their documents.

Chinhamo added that the PMD’s office largely served the interests of the political elite, which has amassed vast mining claims for speculative purposes at the expense of genuine miners.

“There are individuals who have registered several claims where there are no mining activities,” he said, referring to politically connected individuals.

The ACT-SA report names Ingwenya 33 Mine situated in Kwekwe as one of the cases involving corrupt manipulation by mining officials.

Two miners –Diamond Langa Chimuchembere, the current owner,  and Chamunorwa Foroma—are fighting over the claim where, according to ACT-SA, coordinates used were reportedly manipulated by the PMD’s office, resulting in the wrangle.

The latter was reportedly allocated a claim on Chimuchembere’s plot.

ACT-SA says the plot occupier was not consulted and did not give his consent, while a fake confirmation letter from Vungu Rural District Council that has no jurisdiction over the area was used by the PMD’s office to issue a mining certificate to Foroma.

ACT-SA also revealed that a fake letter from the Ministry of Lands that has been disowned by the Kwekwe District Lands officer was used in the process of regulating the mine.

The watchdog has documented another case at Kings 10 Mine whereby the PMD’s office reportedly registered two other separate mines even though the first one was still in force, translating into duplication of claims.

The Midlands PMD, Tariro Ndlovu, said ACT-SA was not adequately knowledgeable about the operations at his office.

“I have seen the ACT-SA report. I have dealt personally with the representative of ACT-SA on all… the cases he cited and tried to resolve the disputes in terms of the law.

“As far as i am concerned, all matters have field investigation reports conducted by our surveyors and determinations delivered.

“If a party to a dispute is not happy, because he would have lost a case, there is recourse to justice through the higher courts and that option is available to all parties. So the cases cited and their articulation only reflect very poorly on the writer’s (ACT-SA’s)  understanding of how the ministry provincial offices work,” he said.

Ndlovu, who took office in January 2021, maintained that he operated above board and distanced himself from malpractices that occurred before his arrival.