The Dinde exploration saga has caused waves locally and internationally over the past months. A lot of issues have been said and continue being told that mining is already taking place or is about to take place. At the moment there is no coal mining activity in Dinde.
The first biggest mistake made by the consultant was to restrict the number of attendees to the consultative process due to Covid19 lockdown restrictions. As a result Chief Nekatambe requested all Village Heads under the affected Wards to attend the consultative meeting on behalf of their villagers. However, when other villagers caught wind of the meeting and its potential impacts they forcibly attended the meeting, despite protests from the Chief.
The meeting even attracted people from as far as Hwange town. So the meeting went on and various concerns were raised. Some of the concerns which are still raised up to this day, are contained in the EIA document.
One of the people fighting the envisaged project is Mr Reeds Dube, a House of Assembly contestant in the 2018 elections under a ZANU PF ticket, he was present during the “consultative” meeting. It has been established that Dube who is also a ZINARA board member has been mobilising the community to frustrate the project. At one point Reeds together with Never Chuma, the ZANU PF Chairman in Dinde paid a nocturnal visit to site, threatening the company with violence, resulting in the arrest of Mr Chuma.
A complaint was raised by Zhou Zheng Qiao the Project Manager for Beifa Investments to the ZANU PF district co-ordinating Committee.
“Mr Dube and Mr Chuma came driving the ZANU PF Hwange Central vehicle saying they were sent by Jacob Mudenda the Speaker of Parliament to inform us that he is sending a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to Dinde” said Mr Qiao.
“The two ZANU PF officials incited the community members to resist our site mobilisation and told the people to beat us up and burn the tent,” he said .
Beifa Investments the Chinese mining entity is accused of allegedly intending to evict villagers from their land to pave way for the mining operations. However, according to Geovannah Consultancy representative, Joshua Manyumbwa, preliminary findings indicate that the mine might not cause large scale evacuations.
“Our area of interest is mainly in Ward 13 which is about 21 320 hectares but the area which will be under exploration is 3 152ha about 14,8% of the Ward. Consultation is not an event but a process, so we will continue to engage with all stakeholders,” said Mr Manyumbwa.
The Dinde issue is important to set the stage for a debate about the provisions of the Mining Act. However, this debate is being side-lined partly by what seems like factional wars in ZANU PF, Hwange district.
Since Reeds lost the recently held DCC elections to Mathew Muleya there are claims that it is possible that he is fighting for relevance in the district and may not want Muleya to be associated with any good development that may come from Dinde.
“Reeds Dube is bitter because he lost the DCC elections and a petition against his defeat has been thrown out. He wants to regain relevance in the constituency but is unfortunately doing it the wrong way,” said a ZANU PF party member who chose to remain anonymous saying disciplinary action against Mr Dube has been recommended by the party.
According to Mr Dube at a meeting held in the presence of the Provincial Minister Richard Moyo, his concerns about the project are that there has been a trend in Hwange of major companies failing to make a positive impact on the communities.
“Whilst we want the investors to come, there is a worrying trend whereby they come and promise many things and go without fulfilling any of the promises” said Dube.
Dube also added that he is worried that there is a probability that the President of Zimbabwe is not aware that where he has given a mining grant is habited by people.
The villagers have reportedly petitioned Parliament over the matter as the coal mining company, Beifa Investments has already started mineral explorations in the area without consulting them.
The Dinde Residents Association Secretary Barnabas Dube told the Minister that they are not welcoming the Chinese Company because they showed their dishonesty by not engaging the community when they came first.
“The residents are not comfortable and are not welcoming these Chinese investors. The site where they want is our cultural heritage. We have our dip tank and a cattle loading bay there too.”
“Their existence may lead to water and air pollution. We are worried about the infringement of our constitutional rights. Zimbabwe’s Constitution states that it’s my right to a safe and clean environment, as a community we are saying no!” said Dube.
So for many groups, the matter here is not to help Dinde residents but it is either a factional fight or an attempt to fight government over “brutality” against its own people among other things.
It is surprising that Greater Whange Residents Association when they were consulted during the EIA process, they never registered any complaint about pending displacements of Dinde residents. They have however been leading the calls on their twitter account declaring that the Beifa Investments is not welcome in Dinde.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Matabeleland North Province Honourable Richard Moyo confirmed that exploration has begun but assured the villagers that they will not be evicted.
“No one is going to be evicted because there is no actual mining happening at the moment. President Mnangagwa has given them a special grant where they are still exploring for the minerals, when they finish the exploration that is when they will apply for a mining permit if they find the mineral they are expecting,” said Moyo.
Moyo encouraged the villagers not to fight with investors as they are coming to develop the Hwange community.
“The operation of this mine will benefit the community through jobs, Hwange used to have Hwange Colliery Company Limited and ZPC but with the coming of new mines, it means more jobs are being created,” he said.
Missing from the narrative doing the rounds is that the purpose of the consultative process as enshrined in the laws of the country. The consultative process is not on whether or not the villagers want the mine to operate but rather on Environmental and Social Impacts that may arise and ways in which they can be mitigated.
However, an environmentalist under Green Shango, Daniel Sithole said there was little the community can do to stop the exploration.
“The Dinde residents have to allow the investor to do the exploration while pressing for an all-inclusive mining EIA in case the investor is satisfied with the quantity and quality of coal underground and wants to mine” said Sithole
Sithole further said that all the unnecessary talk around the issue is not doing any favours for environment protection. “Coal mining is not new under the sun what is needed are sustainable and candid agreements on mitigation measures. Most countries are shifting from fossil to renewable energy. The geo-political space creates limited options for the nation,” said Sithole.
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