By Zandile Tandi
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has added its voice in calling Government to protect the interests of the Dinde community people in Hwange who are facing expulsion from their ancestral homes to make way for a Chinese mining company.
This comes after government attempted to evict yet another minority group, the Chilonga community in Chiredzi, to pave way for a stockfeed grass project.
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 fears that the local community comprising of 600 families would be evicted.
ZPP said assessments showed 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.
ZPP director Jestina Mukoko said community members were afraid of protesting after Never Tshuma was arrested on April 16 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 intrusion of Beifa into the community.
ZPP said it was is concerned by the targeting of minority communities who also had the same rights as everyone.
“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,” said ZPP.
“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.”
ZPP said in communities such as Mutoko foreign companies continued to extract black granite with little or no returns trickling for the benefit of the communities.
ZPP said Government should ensure that in investments involving local communities, there was 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,” said ZPP.
“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.”