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Govt’s Vision 2030 achievable if natural resources plunder is nipped in Hurungwe — says Mliswa-Chikoka as RDC plugs revenue leakages

Gifted with deposits of gold, dolomite, tantalite, graphite, mica, copper, iron and gemstones, among other minerals, Hurungwe is not getting much in terms of royalties from exploration by unregistered miners.

ENDOWED with vast natural resources, including minerals and wildlife, Hurungwe district has immense potential to contribute to the realisation of the Second Republic’s Vision 2030 of an upper-middle-class economy, a top council official has said.

Hurungwe Rural District Council (HRDC) chairman, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka underscored the huge role played by traditional leaders in the protection of endowments, creation of local economies, revenue generation and collection for infrastructural development.

She emphasised President Mnangagwa’s ‘Call To Action’ mandating all 92 local authorities in the country to come up with master plans by the May 31 deadline is a masterstroke, saying Hurungwe and its inhabitants must not be left behind.

Speaking during a headmen’s sensitisation workshop held at Vuti High School on Monday, Mliswa-Chikoka said her local authority needs to work closely with chiefs and headmen to protect minerals, flora and fauna and collect taxes on behalf of the council.

“Vision 2030 that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has set for Zimbabwe will not be achieved if we have a situation whereby we as HRDC are not getting any revenue from our natural resources which are being taken away for a song by people coming from as far as Harare. You are the custodians and development lies solely with you.

“We need headmen, who now include women like never before, to be part of a solid revenue collection system for this vision to be a reality,” she said.

Mliswa-Chikoka said unity of purpose was key to driving development and appealed to villagers to unite and desist from stoking headmanship wrangles that impede revenue collection resulting in development inertia.

“Some people are not paying development levies merely because they lack confidence in your leadership. Headmen should encourage their subjects to be responsible citizens and pay statutory obligations,” said Mliswa-Chikoka, who is also Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairman.

HRDC acting chief executive officer, Felistus Muteta lamented massive resource exploitation from the district by unregistered players, who do not remit relevant taxes and levies to the council.

Rampant illegal activities such as poaching, tree cutting and charcoal-making as well as cattle sales were taking place while depriving HRDC of revenue it is empowered to collect through legislation.

Gifted with deposits of gold, dolomite, tantalite, graphite, mica, copper, iron and gemstones, among other minerals, the district is not getting much in terms of royalties from exploration by unregistered miners.

“We have appointed resource monitors mandated to flag illegal activities and policing with the aim to collect revenue on behalf of the council so that we beef our coffers and be able to build clinics, roads and other infrastructure.

“Headmen have largely been blamed for allowing illegal mining activities in their jurisdictions. Maybe they were doing this out of ignorance, but from today onwards let’s draw the line that headmen should not single-handedly permit miners, it’s unlawful. These miners are supposed to pay hefty fees to the council but nothing is coming into our coffers,” said Muteta.

Some headmen, she added, were unlawfully pocketing US$15 development levies paid by each household per year, warning that punitive action would be taken against wayward elements. She said some had already been taken to court.

Muteta said her council was mulling taking legal action against defaulters, who risk losing livestock such as cattle or farm implements like tractors.

Racing to deliver on the Hurungwe master plan by May 31, the lead planner, district development coordinator (DDC) Leonard Ngirazi, said headmen, who are the grassroots tier of government working with chiefs empowered by the Traditional Leaders’ Act, must expedite the completion of villages’ and 26 wards development plans that feed into the district’s envisaged growth trajectory.

A master plan is a roadmap detailing how the local authority ought to grow and deliver services in the next 20 years.

On July 1, each local authority led by its chief executive officer or town clerk, district planner, district engineer and their lead planner will appear before the president and present their draft master plan.

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