The multinational company Kenmare, which explores the rich mineral sands of Moma in the administrative post of Topuito, Moma District, Nampula Province, is accused of mistreating the region's population and for violating their rights. The company is about to implement a project outside the limits originally agreed upon by the residents and therefore, would require a new compensation plan, which the company refuses to recognize.
The local manager, rather than mediating the stalemate between the parties, is threatening the leaders who defend the interests of their communities.
In 2006, Kenmare became interested in property, located in the neighborhoods of Topuito and Namalope, which today is at the center of the feud. People who were living in the area where the land exploration was to be implemented were compensated. In addition to other activities, this land was used to practice agriculture, which many people depended on for survival.
The compensation process was only completed in 2008, but the company did not immediately explore the areas that they had purchased from the local residents. Now five years later, the company intends to occupy the land, however, the works in progress cover areas that were not projected in the original compensation allocation. Specifically, the works go beyond the limits previously agreed upon. Some farms are being destroyed without any compensation.
Therefore, the Moma population demands that the process be reviewed and that there be new compensations allocated, however, Kenmare does not accept this proposal. This is generating pandemonium, as certain families complain of being deceived by the company. When the local manager appears, he defends the company and threatens community leaders.
The population became outraged, joined together and used force to try and stop the exploration from happening. They went to Kenmare to demand explanations and new compensations, mainly because some farms and houses were being destroyed during the unlawful occupation of their lands. Police and district government intervention was needed to allow tempers to subside, although there have been some reports of intimidation.
Last week, @Verdade was on the ground with some families to evaluate the land markers that had been projected, but could not access the site because of the ongoing works. When the machines are "rumbling" in Topuito, for example, it is apparent that the resident victims will not be able to prevent the mineral extraction from their illicitly occupied property from being realized.
The head of the Community Relations Department of Kenmare, Regina Macuácua, does not reveal the size of the land that the company originally planned to occupy or how many families were compensated, nor does she speak about the monetary values involved. But she does explain that the property in mention at Topuito - the land presently at the heart of the discontent - has not been immediately explored by the company, although the process of exploration was thought to be completed because there was another ongoing project in Namalope.
The agitators of the population
In an attempt to resolve this problem, the neighboring secretaries of the Topuito administrative post met with the Kenmare managers and with members of the Government of District of Moma. However, there was no settlement made between the parties and Kenmare accused the local community representatives of promoting unrest and being opposition party militants.
"Community leaders have been collaborating with the protagonists of the demonstrations," said Regina Macuácua.
In 2006 Fernando Silvano, Secretary of Topuito, witnessed the demarcation of the area that Kenmare would occupy and accompanied the resident compensation process in its entirety, including compensation for lost crops. This year, when the company planned to start their project, Silvano was called again to confirm the limits and found that the projections were the same.
"The contingents of the government responsible for making public consultations in order to gather various understandings in communities just abandon orders instead of listening to their own people," said Fernando Silvino, who is also considered an agitator. He was accused of being in opposition the social and economic development in Topuito, where communities complain of the cost of living due, in part, to lack of livelihood since their farmland was destroyed.
The government is guilty
According to our correspondent, Kenmare is degrading the population of Topuito. The social responsibility programs are only to mislead the people.
And when the people wake up it will be too late because all resources will have been exhausted. "The responsibility for the irregularities committed by the company must be owed to the Government of Moma that sold our lands", Fernando Salvino stated.
The Secretary of Frelimo in Topuito, Dover Boavida Massiele, regrets the fact that the government is not worried about the residents. In addition to the threats to which the secretaries are subjected, those responsible for the sector of economic activity in Moma suggested, without sympathy, that Kenmare reduce the value of restitution in the Act of Compensation for each crop or fruit tree owned by the residents.
Regina Macuácua indicates that the population of Topuito is demanding to be repaid for the areas that have already been compensated for in 2006. This is opportunism. "What we have seen is that people invent farms in places where they did not exist, only with the intention of receiving compensation. The population money hungry."
In Topuito, residents are not pleased with the actions of Kenmare and have vandalized some social structures, such as fountains and public washing places, built in different neighborhoods. The sanitation is also precarious because the population does not observe the basic rules of individual and collective hygiene. Awareness campaigns fail and garbage has been increasing considerably for long time.
Kenmare has the Right of Use and Profit of Land (DUAT) valid until the year 2050. Within the framework of their social responsibility, the company built a sanitary unit, some classrooms and pipelined potable water to the community. Every year, on average, ten students receive scholarships to attend general and tech-professional secondary schools throughout the province of Nampula.
These projects will not ensure a promising future for the young recipients if their families continue living in the hazardous conditions they are currently subjected to. The majority of the Topuito residents depend on agricultural, fishing and small business activities to survive, but their farms were destroyed. Rich soils are becoming depleted and the families associate this to the land extraction, mainly because they no longer have resources to survive. In fact, residents of the neighborhood of Namalope similarly report that they do not know what will be the future of their descendants.
However, at this time, the informal trade is booming and constitutes the main source of income and livelihood. Apart from infertile farmland, the sea and the areas where fishermen were able to fish for sale and consumption are now crowded with ships and small boats that transport the extracted resources day and night. Kenmare employment opportunities are nothing more than a mirage for the populations of Topuito and Moma district. In addition to foreign citizens, the majority of the workforce comes from other districts or provinces of the country.
Administrator says nothing
During the week spent in Moma, our reporter tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to hear Administrator Momade Shale's account of the general population's complaints. Supposedly, he was in the district of Mossuril, participating in funeral ceremonies of a family member. We also contacted Momade Shale during the period when the residents' farms were destroyed, but received no response because he was in Cabo Delgado province.
Attempt to misrepresent the facts
On September 12th 2013, @Verdade ran a story online that Kenmare was destroying farms in the communities of Topuito, Naholokho and Namalope without the consent of the owners in order to make way for the second phase of the land extraction project. In this context, a representative from Kenmare called us saying that what we had published was a lie. However, in addition to condemning the attempt to discredit our work, we reaffirm everything stated in this original report.
By Redacçao. Translated By Francisco J. P. Chuquela. Proofread By Lauren Fox