THE under-fire Mutare City Council leased an entire mountain to a Chinese quarry miner for a paltry US$7 500 annual fee, fresh developments in the scandalous deal which has roused the residents indicate.
The lease agreement indicates that the local authority, and the miner, Freestone Mines agreed on a deal to extract quarry in the Dangamvura Mountain for a fee of just US$629 per month.
Already, irate residents are up in arms with the city authorities who granted the permission to mine within a highly populated area, without the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certification.
Residents want council to relocate Freestone Mines quarry to a new site which is far from the sprouting Dangamvura high density suburb.
According to the 10-year lease agreement, Mutare leased its 6,5-hectare stand situated at deforested Dangamvura mountain to Freestone Mines so that it can establish its stone quarry mine.
The lesser will be exempted from paying rentals to the border town authority during the first eight months of the lease agreement.
“The lessee shall pay to the lessor an annual rental of US$7557 for the use of site. As an exemption inceptive, the lessee will be exempted from paying rentals during the first eight months of the duration of the lease agreement,” the lease agreement reads in part.
Freestone Mines shall not be entitled to compensation for any leasehold improvements including fixed assets, roads, electricity, water and sewer developments.
Mutare City may constantly review lease rentals after first eight months of agreement and changes will be communicated to the lessee through a one month written notice.
“Should there be any need for relocation of sites due to developments by the lesseor of the property, the lessor is to give two months written notice to the lessee and both parties are to meet the costs of relocation,” the lease agreement further reads.
It is believed the Chinese company has already paid the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Manicaland in advance for electricity to be connected at the quarry site.
“ZESA was paid a lot of money so that the Chinese miner gets connected to the grid. Even the workers who were conducting the connections of the quarry to the main grid had a big bonanza,” a source said.
In a statement Thursday, a local youth rights group, Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) condemned Freestone Mines for running afoul with the county’s constitutional obligations by ignoring EIA process.
“This attitude casts in very bad light the image of our Chinese friends who of late have been receiving the hard end of the stick for undermining local communities in Mutoko, Dinde (Hwange), Goromonzi, Uzumba and Manhize in Chivu. It is this extractivism mentality that must be exorcized from these investors. We are worried by the seemingly business as usual demeanor displayed by our institutions especially EMA and Mutare City Council who stood akimbo while Freestone freely carved open Dangamvura mountain,” MAYA said. (New Zimbabwe)