MINES deputy minister Fred Moyo is under fire for allegedly playing a key role in the recent closure of Sabi Mine in Zvishavane to fulfill an election promise to award supporters gold claims within the mine if he was elected MP.
The mine shut down recently due to financial constraints and alleged gross mismanagement throwing more than 500 workers into the ranks of the unemployed.
Moyo is allegedly initiating a youth-in-mining empowerment programme that would be awarded gold rich claims within Sabi Mine.
An economist Jason Shumba said it was worrying that Moyo fast tracked the collapse of Sabi Mine to ingratiate himself with Zanu PF youths in the Zvishavane constituency.
“The mining empowerment drive is Moyo’s baby that he is using to strengthen his political base at the expense of Sabi Mine workers who are now living in poverty,” Shumba said.
“It simply shows that he (Moyo) has got a hand in the closure of the mine as he wants to award it to members of his constituency under the guise that the mine would be lying idle.”
Zvishavane senator and MDC-T shadow home affairs minister Lilian Timveos castigated the move saying the major focus should be to resuscitate Sabi Mine for the benefit of the workers.
“The mine must be opened first before any other plan is implemented. You cannot give makorokoza a highly functioning and producing mine under the guise of empowerment while its workers suffer in poverty,” Timveos said.
Sabi Mine workers said Moyo should have revived the gold mine first before using its claims for political purposes.
Moyo, who is also the Zvishavane-Runde MP, could neither deny nor confirm the allegations that he was behind the mine’s closure saying the youth empowerment move was national and it was unfortunate that it gained millage at the time Sabi Mine shut down.
“It’s a national programme that covers all constituencies that have gold and I cannot comment as an MP, but as a minister on behalf of government,” he said.
“The fact that there are claims in Zvishavane (Sabi) and I happen to be the MP is coincidental to the national programme.”
Moyo said $100 million had been secured from an unnamed Chinese company to conduct training for small-scale miners.
He said they had agreed with the Chamber of Mines earlier this year that all the big mines such as Metallon Gold, Duration and Sabi, among others, should release all unutilised claims for the sake of this programme.