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Stand-off over mineral-rich land

By Chester Makana | Jul 01, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE discovery of mineral resources at Madimbo Corridor in the far east of Limpopo has sparked a conflict of interests between influential individuals and the landowners

This comes after the transfer of  ownership of the land to the Vhembe Communal Property  Association was allegedly stalled.  The association has since accused  the Land Commission of being  influenced by unnamed politicians.

Association secretary Mahwasane Mudzweda said politicians were using the Land Commission to dispossess them of  their land because of the wealth  underground. Several deposits,  among them nickel and diamonds,  were discovered in the area.

The corridor apparently shares  the diamond belt with De Beers’  Venetia mine and Tshikondeni  Exxaro coal mine.

Mudzweda said there had been  mining activities in the corridor  decades ago – before the apartheid  government cordoned-off the area  since it regarded it as freedom  fighters’ escape route.

He said potential investors had  expressed interest in the land but  were unable to proceed because  influential politicians were positioning themselves to use the land  for their own selfish ends.

“We rejected some individuals’  offers to use our land for mining,  and now these politicians want to  take our land again,” Mudzweda  said yesterday. “We are still living  in abject poverty despite owning a  land rich with minerals.

“We want the government to give  us our land so that we can decide  what to do with it. No one is going to  rip us off this time around.”

Though part of the land was  given back to the community in  2004 it is, however, still under the  control of the SA National Defence  Force, who patrol the border  between SA and Zimbabwe.

The area is populated by rhinos  and elephants.

The community is now waiting  for the title deed so that it can start  negotiations with developers for  mining explorations.

The Land Claims Commission  had not commented at the time of  going to press.



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