MASVINGO – Chief Fortune Charumbira who is also the president of the Council of Chiefs has been accused of demanding and collecting US$350 from each of the 200 artisanal miners working in his area.
Acting Masvingo Provincial Mining Director Marshal Muzira said he was not allowed to speak to the Press when The Mirror contacted him for comment.
However, a senior official at the Ministry of Mines headquarters in Harare who declined to be named said that there were numerous complaints against the chief.
Charumbira vehemently refuted the allegations and said the culprits could be some people who may have done that without his knowledge. He however, conceded that he recently summoned miners to his homestead for a meeting but insisted that it was only to complain to them against rising crime in his area.
Masvingo Police spokesperson Charity Mazula said police are yet to receive any report involving Chief Charumbira. She urged the miners to come forward if they have any complaint.
Chief Charumbira’s area including the backyard of Masvingo City is facing unprecedented environmental degradation because of rampant gold mining taking place.
Several miners who spoke to The Mirror accused Charumbira of making illegal money demands from them. They however, requested anonymity for fear of being kicked out of their mines.
Charumbira whose name was recently published in the media for allegedly receiving free farm equipment from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe worth US$306 509.00 said he was just a poor chief and he could be very rich if he had been taxing the miners the US$350.
He blamed the allegations on the poisoned political and unprofessional environment that exists in the country.
The miners told The Mirror that they are seriously contemplating making a Police report.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of State for Masvingo, Ezra Chadzamira were futile.
“That is not true at all. My messengers have never collected money from miners. There are more than 200 miners in my area and surely I would be very rich if I receive half of that money. I am a poor chief after all. I only called the miners to my homestead to talk about rising criminal activities and no money was demanded.
“Tell me the names of the miners who are complaining so that I can investigate because my area is big. It is possible that other people are doing it in my absence but none of my messengers is involved,” said Charumbira.
The sources said that there are people who come and demand the money in the name of the chief.
“The money is now overdue, it was supposed to be paid in full earlier this week and only a few managed to pay. They just say it belongs to the chief without explaining. They don’t give you receipts meaning the process is dubious,” said one of the miners.
The official at the Ministry said that there was no law that allowed individuals to collect levies from miners.https://masvingomirror.com