By Mary Nyadome
The relationship of rural communities in Zimbabwe with mining companies is often tense and unproductive and to a very great extent laced with toxic politics. This is because mining companies are primarily extractive, domineering and oppressive in the context of local resources, infrastructure and power structures. This renders the generality of rural inhabitants vulnerable while local leaders on the other hand thrive on financial and material spill overs from these same mining establishments: benefits and rewards which to a large extent are corruptly accessed.
In the end, the potential of contracts that should protect local communities for instance from discriminatory labour practices or even environmental pollution is watered down through unsystematic interventions by petty power mongers and other corrupt individuals. In the very final conclusion, the real challenges facing rural communities remain unresolved unto eternity. Poisonous chemicals continue being spilt into water sources that feed local inhabitants and more suffer from bronchitis and other lung infections resulting from dust spewing from the mines and their unsurfaced feeder roads. The prospect of effective solutions will exist when local political competition and corrupt tendencies are eliminated completely, when local traditional and community power and authority structures are utilised to maximum effect. Otherwise this explains prevalent conflicts in Mberengwa and also why rural communities in Murehwa have lost the iconic Domborembudzi to the Chinese.