SW Radio Africa (London)

7 March 2014

Zimbabwe: War Vets Clash With a Chinese Company Over Gold Claims

War vets in Shurugwi have clashed with a Chinese company over gold claims, which the Chinese say they bought from another foreign businessman. According to reports Jin Yang Africa (Private) Ltd purchased over 140 claims at Bonza Gold Mine in Shurugwi from Francis Bester.

The dispute arose after the Chinese evicted four war vets from some parts of the mining claim that had access to a lode of gold.

A Monday NewsDay report said government officials moved in to solve the squabble between the Chinese and the MECA Syndicate, which is the operating name of the four war vets. According to the report the Chinese company was told that it must give 51% percent shares of the company to the war vets in line with Zimbabwe's indigenisation and empowerment laws. It was also resolved that the war vets should continue to operate on the land until the matter was finalized. Bester was urged to surrender all the land he was not working on. Commercial Framers Union President Charles Taffs said, as long as there is 'no clarity on the land ownership such clashes are bound to occur.' Taffs added: 'This problem is not just in the mining sector; it is also in the agricultural sector.' 'In my sector it is even affecting production because everyone operates with the fear that anytime they can be evicted. The government needs to listen and take advice so that we can move forward.'

On seizing the land government just parceled out pieces of it to its cronies but the white farmers retained the title deed, a legal document that entitled them to the land. Since then the ownership has been a serious problem as no one knows who is legally entitled to what. The government has previously announced handing out some 99 year leases to some farmers but they have found it difficult to obtain bank loans because the leases show that the land officially belongs to the state. Banks won't lend to borrowers with no collateral back up for the loan.

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