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Photo: O País
Residents of Chipindaumué and Nhamaturi villages in the Gondola district of Manica are complaining of problems caused by the activities of Portucel, including loss of crops, encroachment and lack of compensation.
The unsettled claims date from December 2017, and residents are demanding that the Portuguese firm ceases activities, O País reports.
According to the Academic Action for the Development of Rural Communities (ADECRU), which is following the case, company management have already promised to resolve the matter.
ADECRU says it has also heard accusations that community leadership has been making decisions without prior consultation.
For example, the local Chipindaumué community leader is said to have submitted to the secretary of the locality a list of people who were asking for jobs at Portucel without the community knowing.
“We did not even know that the leader submitted a job application document to Portucel on behalf of the community. What we do know is that we are not aware of any meeting taking place from which a job list would have resulted,” Mugabe Augusto said.
Responding to the accusations, community leader Adelino Albino Chipindaumué said that the list resulted from a meeting held in Nhamacoa with community who had asked for jobs.
“Although I did not participate, the leader of Nhamacoa told me that there was a meeting and the community asked for jobs and made a list,” Augusto said.
The communities had another round of talks a week ago with the community leaders and the Portucel management in which the population in general once again rejected the company’s presence, while seasonal workers expressed their interest the company remaining so as to secure their jobs.
According to Portucel manager Costa Fernando Chicote, communities overall welcomed the company as a potential employer despite some voices to the contrary.
“The members of ADECRU were dencouraging the population to reject the company claiming that there was no land, but if the company were offering employment, that would be good,” Costa said.
Given this impasse, the head of the locality is scheduled for another meeting with residents and Portucel management to discuss not only the existing disputes but also the authenticity of the supposed list of job applications.
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