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Press gag powers illegal

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CHIEF Mazvihwa’s bid to fine Murowa ward councillor Jacob Mvuto for talking to the press over an air pollution case that led to the hospitalisation of 150 pupils at Baradzanwa Primary School hit a brickwall after the court said the traditional leader had no prerogative to gag an elected person to speak or respond to the media in his area of jurisdiction.

ALLIEWAY NYONI
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Mazvihwa last year ordered his two headmen, Rabson Madzoke and Simon Sithambe together with Mvuto, to pay two goats and a $100 fine for revealing how Rio Tinto-owned Murowa Diamonds was affecting villagers through pollution and destruction of houses due to blasts.

Sithambe and Madzoke paid the required fines but Mvuto refused and took the case to the courts.

The court said Chief Mazvihwa had no capacity to gag an elected councillor, Member of Parliament or Senator from speaking on behalf of those that elected him, ruling the fine was null, void and unjustifiable.

The court said Mvuto, as councillor, had the right to talk to Murowa Diamonds mine management at will if there was a matter of concern, as the mine lies in his constituency and any of its operations concerned him.

Meanwhile, Murowa Diamonds has not fulfilled its obligations of treating a dust road used by heavy vehicles, to reduce dust pollution. Safe blast measures are still to be implemented.

Speaking to Southern Eye, Mvuto said recently the mine made a blast at K3 pit and a big rock flew into nearby fields endangering human life and livestock in Mano village.

“The management is not taking safety issues of our villagers seriously,” the councillor said.

“They had promised to sprinkle water along the dust road, while measures to construct a tarred road were supposed to be underway, but nothing has been implemented.

“It is very worrying that recently during a mine blast at their K3 pit a very big rock flew to the farming fields and it could have struck a villager or livestock.

“We approached them and they admitted the case, so there is a lot to be done.”

However, Chief Mazvihwa said, although there were one or two problems, the mine was committed to developing the community and they had started drilling boreholes and electrifying Baradzanwa Primary School at a time teachers were fleeing from the area due to water and power shortages.

“They might be challenges here and there, but at least these guys have started connecting electricity and water at our local school during a time teachers are shunning the school,” he said.

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