BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
As usual, Makaha business centre in Mudzi district, Mashonaland East is bustling with activity with the type of cars roaming around the area telling a story of the nature of business being conducted-gold buying.
Despite being located away from the normal life coupled by a poor road network, the gold-rich area is undoubtedly the most trending and undoubtedly one of the biggest producers of gold in Zimbabwe.
About 10km from the business centre is 65-year-old Gogo Munyoro, (real name Diana Mandiseka), who is a bitter woman.
A few weeks ago, despite the Covid-19 restriction measures, more than 200 illegal gold panners descended on her gold mining claim and dug shafts in search of the precious mineral without her consent.
“I would see people passing through by my house at night not knowing that they were illegally mining at my claim,” Gogo Munyoro told Standard Style.
“About 230 people were ferried by mishikashika [pirate taxis] to the claim. The area belongs to me and my family. Some of the gold panners even threatened me with death after the police had intervened.”
She claimed the illegal panners wantomly destroyed vegetation while excavating in search of the precious mineral before police moved in to disperse them arresting many in the process.
“I know the person who is behind all this. It is [Danny] Musukuma who wants to take my claim, hence sending these illegal gold panners to my claim,” Gogo Munyoro said.
As if that is not enough, last week, another group of illegal gold panners invaded the same claim resulting in five of them getting arrested.
The accused will appear in court on September 2.
Musukuma, a former Zanu PF director of Information and Publicity, is into gold mining in the area.
Musukuma claimed to be lawfully entitled to the claim.
“I do hold mining rights and I am lawfully doing mining operations on that piece of land,” he said.
“I am yet to establish what really happened on that night when police pounced on my people.
“People have been digging shafts of up to 35m in the area, but just because on that day they got high value gold we had riot police acting on the instructions of some greedy people in the area.”
Musukuma, who was relieved of his duties at Zanu PF sometime last year, has been having a sour relationship with Gogo Munyoro over the mining claim.
The widow, however, has succeeded in getting back the claim, thanks to authorities for the intervention.
“Musukuma is using his political muscle to harass a widow like me. I will fight for what is mine. I have all the papers showing that I am the legal owner of the mine. I have been paying licence fees to the government for some time now,” Gogo Munyoro said.
The mine is registered under Munyoro Mining Syndicate with other members being her children.
Just across Gogo Munyoro’s mining claim is the Nkomo family’s, who are also accusing Musukuma of taking over their mining claim.
Nkomo family members said Musukuma has been barring them from the mine although they were rightful owners of the area.
The nine Nkomo family members have since been issued with a protection order by Musukuma while the mine wrangle is still before the courts.
The family spokesperson Lovemore Kondorani confirmed they were embroiled in a wrangle with Musukuma over the claim.
“Musukuma has reduced us to paupers and we cannot even mine at our own claim,” Kondorani said.
“He allegedly entered into an agreement with John Nkomo and fraudulently acquired the mine. He doesn’t have the proper papers and we have them. The nine of us were issued with protection orders and we cannot access the mine.
“We are not going to rest until we get what belong to us. We are not in support of people who drag Zanu PF into disrepute and exploit us.”
According to court papers dated May 12, 2016 (HC4874/16), Musukuma who is the director at Mineral Identity (Pvt) Ltd entered into an agreement with the late John Nkomo in 2013.
“The applicant [Mineral Identity Pvt Ltd) is a party to joint venture agreement entered into in August 2013 between the applicant and the late John Nkomo,” reads part of agreement.
“In terms of the said agreement, the applicant exercises rights in the mine called Koodoo 10 located in Mudzi.The applicant has been exercising such rights and invested in the development of the infrastructure in the mine ever since the agreement was entered into and after the passing on of the other joint partner.
“However, on May 6, the applicant became aware that a lawless fashion, the first to 12th respondent had invaded the mine wherein they harrassed and chased away the applicant’s employees. From the names of these respondents, it seems they are related to the late Nkomo.
“However, this does not give them any right considering the fact that the estate is yet to be registered and the joint venture agreement itself provide for the perpetual nature of the patnership.”
Musukuma also alleged in the court papers that he injected more than US$400 000 into the project.
However, the Nkomo family accuses the politician of using his influence to deprive them of the mine.
“He used his influence as a politician to take what belongs to us. At one point, we were called to the provincial mines offices in Marondera where Musukuma agreed to pay the family US$10 000 as compensation, but he failed to fullfill that,” Kondorani said.
“As a family, we have since engaged our local MP Jonathan Samkange, who is also a lawyer, to assist us in the matter.”
However, Musukuma mantains he is aware of some people in the area who are using their political connections to disrupt his business.
“This is the time to stop these fights, but we should be fighting and finding solutions top the Covid-19 scourge ravaging the country,” Musukuma said.
For now Gogo Munyoro is a happy woman as police succeeded in dispesing the illegal miners while the Nkomo family awaits the determination of the courts.