The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) wishes to add its voice in calling on government to protect the interests of the people of the Dinde community in Hwange, who are facing expulsion from their ancestral homes to make way for a Chinese mining company, Beifa Investments (Pvt) Ltd.
After government granted Beifa a special mining exploration permit to conduct exploration activities in the Dinde area, the company has since started its work in Ward 13, raising genuine fears that the local community, comprising about 600 families, will be evicted. Assessments made by the ZPP show that the majority of the Dinde people, who are largely of the Nambya and Tonga origin, have expressed concern about the impending disruption of their way of life. So far, they have articulated their worries in the form of protests, and a community member, Never Tshuma was arrested on 16 April and detained for inciting public violence after participating in a demonstration against the mining activities by the company. He has since been released on ZWL10,000 bail.
Recently, images of mining holes drilled on some parts of the Dinde area, including on graveyards, raised concern about the unwelcome intrusion of Beifa into the community. Worrying Trend The case of the Dinde people is just another case of government’s insensitive approach to local communities, where there is no proper bottom to top consultation of communities on key issues such as investment ventures signed at central government levels. Worryingly, this comes a month after government attempted to evict yet another minority group, the Chilonga community in Chiredzi, to pave way for a stockfeed grass project altered to an irrigation project. It took solidarity action by civic organisations including the ZPP to have government delay the planned Chilonga evictions.
ZPP is therefore concerned by the targeting of minority communities who also have the same rights as everyone. It is only fair that whoever wants to do anything that affects them has to do it after consultations. By imposing decisions on communities, government creates unnecessary conflict, and the investors find themselves caught up in the melee, a situation that would have been avoided if government had decided to do the right thing in the first place. Unfortunately, government waves the excuse that such investments are done in the interests of promoting development in the affected communities. Yet if any development undermines interests, rights and expectations of local communities, it becomes the opposite of what it intends to achieve.
Communities such as in Marange in Manicaland are still in extreme poverty because the diamonds that were discovered in the area were plundered and looted, leaving the displaced communities in a worse off situation. In Mutoko, where ZPP works with the local communities, foreign companies continue to extract black granite with little or no returns trickling for the benefit of the communities.
In light of this, ZPP calls on the government to ensure that in all the investments that involve local communities, there is proper and genuine consultations to enable the views, concerns and aspirations of communities to be factored in. Government should also ensure that it has the primary responsibility to ensure that investments benefit the local communities, and as such, it should take the necessary measures to craft investment agreements that factor in the interests of communities.
We call on government to stop the eviction of the Dinde community and to allow for a process of proper consultation where a win-win situation is realized, unnecessary suffering averted and where conflict is abated.
Source: Zimbabwe Peace Project