41 Graves Relocated for Zimbabwe Gold Mine Expansion

Mazhambe Village Faces Grave Moves for Mining Project

by Adenike Adeodun

Over forty graves at Mazhambe Village in the Guruve district are going to be exhumed and relocated to make way for the expansion of Eureka Gold Mine’s waste dump. This development has raised concerns among the local community and highlights the ongoing conflict between economic development and cultural heritage preservation in Zimbabwe. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, as many other similar exhumations have taken place in the country.

Eureka Gold Mine, a subsidiary of Delta Gold Zimbabwe, has issued a notice in the Government Gazette announcing plans to relocate 41 graves from Mazhambe Village. This relocation, approved under the auspices of the Cemeteries Act [Chapter 5:04], aims to clear the way for a mine waste facility expansion, essential for the mine’s continued operation. The notice explicitly calls for any stakeholders or family members with claims or concerns to come forward, highlighting the legal and ethical considerations surrounding such sensitive operations.

In Zimbabwe, there are strict laws regarding the exhumation of human remains. Under Sections 110 and 111 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], it is illegal to disturb graves without proper authorization. This emphasizes the importance of complying with the law and showing respect for the deceased. Eureka Gold Mine ensures compliance with these laws while balancing the need for economic benefits.

However, there is another issue that has captured public attention recently. The National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) is planning to remove human remains from a site at Mount Hampden, where a new high-profile Cyber City is set to be developed. This futuristic project aims to place Zimbabwe at the forefront of digital and technological innovation, but its site selection has been controversial due to concerns over the removal of human remains.

The notice, targeting Lot 12 of Mount Hampden farm, calls for public comments and objections to be submitted by April 30, 2024. This public consultation process is part of Zimbabwe’s legal framework to ensure that such projects are transparent and consider public sentiment, especially from those who might be directly affected by the exhumations.

The decision to move graves, whether it’s for mining or development projects, is a sensitive issue that involves cultural and ethical dilemmas. For most Zimbabweans, graves are not just places where the dead are laid to rest, but also significant cultural heritage sites that link communities with their ancestors and their history. Therefore, disturbing these sites can cause strong emotional reactions and opposition from local communities and descendants.

Additionally, these developments raise questions about the priorities and governance of resource allocation and development planning in Zimbabwe. While economic development and modernization are essential for the country’s growth, it is necessary to balance these measures carefully with the need to preserve cultural integrity and obtain community consent.

Effective community engagement is critical in such projects to ensure that all voices are heard and that the projects can proceed with social license. Eureka Gold Mine and the NMMZ must navigate these waters carefully, employing transparent communication and genuine consultation processes. This approach mitigates conflict and builds trust between the developers and the community, fostering a cooperative environment rather than an adversarial one.

As Zimbabwe progresses in its economic and technological growth, it faces the challenge of combining modern advancements with traditional values and practices. The situations of Mazhambe Village and Mount Hampden illustrate the importance of maintaining a balance between development and heritage preservation. These cases emphasize the necessity of having a robust regulatory framework that can facilitate growth while taking into account the cultural and historical landscapes that define Zimbabwe’s rich heritage.

The conversation that continues between development organizations, cultural institutions, the affected communities and the Zimbabwean government will play a major role in determining the future of the nation’s landscape. It will decide whether Zimbabwe can create a direction that values its economic aspirations as well as its cultural heritage.


Source: Newsday

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