Uproar over coal mining in Hwange National Park

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BY CHENGETO CHIDI

Environmental lobbyists have dragged government to court over allegations that a Chinese company was granted permission to mine for coal at Hwange National Park.

The Zimbabwean Environmental Law Association (ZELA) along with Fedelis Chima, a Hwange resident filed an application at the High Court in a bid to stop the mining which they said will endanger wildlife in the game park.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Zhongxin Mining Group Tongmao Coal Company are reported to have entered into joint operations under a special grant in the Hwange National Park, home to Elephants, Buffalos and Lions a major tourist attraction.

In their court application Zela and Chima argued that they had not been afforded rights to input into the decision to allocate mining rights the National Park

“The upending of the legislative process entailed failure to provide interested and or affected persons an opportunity to participate in the administrative decision making. As a result, the decision makers failed to avail themselves of the benefit of all the relevant factors and considerations.”

“Authorization of, and commencement of, mining in a protected national park is in breach of the constitutional duty on all respondents to prevent ecological degradation and promote conservation in terms of section 73(b) of the constitution of Zimbabwe,” reads the application.

Environment Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said he was aware of the interest generated by the story and was from last week holding meetings to deal with the issues.

“It’s a developing story, we are seized with the matter together with the Minister of Mines, it’s too early if I might say for me to make any public pronouncements on the matter- It’s a matter that we started working on just after the president’s visit and we are trying to look at different ways of resolving the issue, trying to look at different ways of resolving the issue, obviously we are not too keen to disturb a national parks and we would consider other areas but the discussions are around makings sure that we preserve pristine standing of our national parks, we will be making public announcements on the matter in due course,” Ndlovu.