North Mara intrusions: Community leaders draw intervention strategies

By Lake Zone Watch Writer

Community leaders in Tarime District, who include traditional elders, councilors and village chairpersons have made a joint move aiming at responding to a call by Barrick President and CEO Mark Bristow to help stem frequent raids on North Mara Gold mine by armed youth.

In an interview with Lake Zone Watch, the Secretary of 12 clans of the Kurya at Nyamogo, Mwita Nyasibora said the clan leaders will punish anyone who will make any attempt to sabotage the gold mine.

“We don’t want to see these hooligans interfering with the operations of the mine. Just like any other investor, the mine deserves to run its activities peacefully,’’ Nyasibora said.

Sharing her serious concern on the frequent invasions at North Mara, Special Seats councilor from Nyamwaga Ward, Mariam Mkono said it was unfair to disrupt activities at the mine, which has been supporting the entire district council through service levy and numerous Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects.

“We, the councilors in the five wards surrounding the gold mine are going to table this issue before the council’s meetings. North Mara is paying service levy, so it is part of Tarime District council. In the past, the CSR funds were disbursed to only 11 wards surrounding the mine, but today, all 26 wards of the council are the beneficiaries. So you can see the problem affects the entire district council. We need to join forces and protect the mine for our own good,’’ said Mkono.

She said plans are underway to hold public rallies in order to talk to the youth and parents on the social and economic effects of the intrusions.

The aim is to include the problem of invasions on the agenda of the CDC meetings which were initiated by Barrick in its effort to improve community services through the CSR funds.

“If we stand together, we’ll win. We can bring the youth leaders to a roundtable with the mine’s management. It’s important that this problem is solved once and for all. It must be stopped because it has caused lots of losses on both sides, some people have even lost their lives,” Mkono said.

She also warned that at times, the invaders have fought amongst themselves over gold sand and ugly incidents of injuries and deaths have been reported, adding that it was surprising that some women have joined the band wagon and were sneaking into the mine at night.

“We are going to talk with the youth and women. We will tell them the consequences they are likely to face, if they will not stop this bad business. But we will also seek to know their grievances and see how we can help them become law-abiding citizens and protect the gold mine which has been a great supporter of local development,’’ said Mkono.

On the part of village chairpersons, their strategy to end the invasions involves condemning them in the strongest terms and educating the youth on the risks involved if they will not back off .

“ We have a strategy in place. We will start by educating the youth in the villages surrounding the gold mine on why they need to obey the law and stop their bad behavior, ’’ said Nyangoto village government chairperson Mwita Msegi.

Their plans also involve bringing together grassroots leaders and the district’s security committee into joint meetings.

Recently, Barrick Corporation President and CEO Mark Bristow appealed to government, political and community leaders in Tarime District to team up with North Mara in order to stem the frequent raids on the gold mine by gangs of armed youth.

“Just as I’ve received your various requests and honoured them, please work on mine as well, and mine is asking you to help root out these raids at North Mara,’’ said Bristow when addressing a meeting attended by Tarime District Commissioner Col. Michael Mntenjele

The DC too, had vowed to rein in the raids saying the government was not at ease while intruders were disrupting peace at the gold mine.

North Mara Gold mine is owned by Barrick Gold in a partnership with the government through Twiga Minerals Corporation.

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