Thousands of villagers and Chinhoyi residents recently descended on the farm following the discovery of gold, but were driven off by riot police. Soldiers and police officers also joined the gold rush and a number of them were arrested after they were caught illegally panning for the precious mineral.
Police sources in Chinhoyi told The Standard that former Zanu PF MP, Idah Mashonganyika, had allegedly enlisted the support of Senate president Edna Madzongwe in a bid to block rival group, Muduma Mining Syndicate, formed by senior police officers in the province.
They said Mashonganyika had used the police to force Muduma Syndicate to cease operations in the disputed area.
But Mashonganyika was allegedly allowed to continue mining at the farm which, ironically, was allocated to a senior Chinhoyi police officer after it was forcibly acquired from Gerry Heinz several years ago under the government’s land reform programme.
The sources said some of the officers involved in the mining venture were said to have been transferred to as far as Beitbridge and Victoria Falls.
Mashonganyika insisted that she was the rightful owner of the mining claim at Heinz farm, claiming that she had documents from the mining commissioner to prove that.
“We went to the police who requested others to produce their papers but no-one came,” she said. “So we were given the green light by the police to operate.”
A member of the Muduma Mining Syndicate, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, disputed Mashonganyika’s claim saying the consortium of police officers had been holding the rights to mine in the area since 2010, while the former MP allegedly applied for a licence only this year.
Madzongwe also distanced herself from the saga, suggesting that certain people could be using her name to “frighten” competitors.
“I don’t know anything about the mining issue in Chinhoyi,” she said. “I am hearing it from you for the first time. Maybe my name was used to scare other contestants in the dispute.”
Mashonaland West police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara was singing a different tune insisting that the police had stopped all operations at the mine.
“We stopped all operations at the mine site because we want to verify the legal owner of the claim,” he said.
Sources at the ministry of mines accused politicians of using their influence to bulldoze their way into mining claims already given to other people. They also blamed the mining commissioner of allocating one claim to several people thereby causing confusion.
Mashonaland West mining commissioner, a Chihota, referred questions to chief mining commissioner, a Mabhena, who could not be reached for comment.
“I cannot comment now because we are looking into the issue. You can however talk to the chief mining commissioner to get more details,” he said.
Delays in the issuing of licences and double allocation of mining rights have resulted in unresolved claims disputes, sparking fierce fights between prospective owners.