Villagers around Kanyika Niobium Mine in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabulabo in Mzimba have complained about the compensation package they signed with government for them to move away.
The community, comprising mostly traditional leaders, said the money is increasingly becoming valueless with inflation going up.
Globe Metals Limited is expected to mine niobium at Kanyika and the people near the mine are expected to leave the mining area to avoid accidents.
Senior Group Village Head Mberewere was particularly concerned that the district commissioner’s office made them sign less than what they wanted.
“The district commissioner’s office imposed on us what it wanted, not hearing from us what we want. In the end, they came up with what they feel is worth our gardens and houses, not what we believe,” said the traditional leader, wondering how they came up with such figures.
Village Head Zebediya Ngulube disclosed that people signed to vacate their land for as little as K60 000 (about $150).
But sub-T/A Yobe Nhlane revealed that: “We were told that if we refuse, a bulldozer will come and destroy our houses. Fear ruled everything.”
Several other traditional leaders spoke about how they felt cheated when signing for compensation as they did not know where they will be relocated.
Happy Nhlane, project officer from Church and Society of the Livingstonia CCAP Synod, was surprised to hear that the community signed for compensation, saying all he knew was that they were being worked on.
Mzimba district commissioner Moses Chimphepo admitted that the community signed compensation pledges, but are waiting for the final phase.
“Globe Metals is still in discussion with government on developmental agreements. Once this is done and completed, the community will receive their money,” said Chimphepo.
Diocesan secretary Arnold Msimuko confirmed that his office monitored the compensation signing process.
“However, what remained was where the people will be relocated,” said Msimuko.
Church and Society research officer Park Muhonda said secrecy surrounding extractive industries prompted the campaign in the area.
Danish Church Aid (DCA) is funding the sensitisation campaign.