VILLAGERS in Hwange and Binga districts, Matabeleland North, face eviction from their ancestral homes to pave way for Chinese mining projects.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Chinese have had a footprint in Zimbabwe among other African countries, particularly in mining ventures.
The mining operations have often caused discord among locals, with many alleging that they have been left with nothing to show save for environmental degradation.
In Matabeleland North, the situation is reportedly the same with villagers in Binga and Hwange now facing eviction to pave way for Chinese miners.
Villagers alleged that the Chinese were working with the local traditional leadership, particularly chiefs to push for the eviction of their subjects and believe the chiefs could have been bribed though that could not be independently verified.
In Hwange, a proposed Chinese mining project at Dinde dip tank has evoked so much anger that locals have even sought the help of Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda to stop attempts to evict them. Mudenda hails from the same province.
“Let them speak for themselves….I operate according to the doctrine of separation of powers. It’s an executive issue; you should direct your questions to the Ministry of Mines,” Mudenda said when contacted for comment on Friday.
Southern Eye established that the Chinese were claiming to have been given special mining concessions by the government. They claimed to have the support of Chief Nekatambe who could not be reached for comment.
“We had a meeting recently at Dinde dip tank where we were being apprised of this planned Chinese mining project.
Villagers were unanimous in rejecting this mining project as it would result in their eviction,” said Reeds Dube who is an active Zanu PF member.
“And for me as a Zanu PF member my issue was that the Chinese were de-campaigning the President as they claimed they were given a special mining concession without providing any evidence.”
Canaan Sianyuka, a local added: “The worst part of it all is that they are not even mentioning where people will be relocated. We are adamant that they should look for coal elsewhere without disturbing our peace.”
A petition to Mudenda seeking his help shows that the Chinese miners were targeting several areas including Siadindi in Binga.
In Hwange, they are reportedly targeting coal, tantalum, jade and quarry mining operations and were operating at Deka South, ZZCC Dick Area, Ngumija, Mpongola, Dinde cattle pen and dip tank, Kapami, Hwange industrial area, Nsongwa, Nyagara, Number One North and Simangani.
“The communities of both Binga and Hwange districts have been caught unawares by the sudden influx of the Chinese with the support from the local chiefs in search and exploration of minerals without consultation as well as consideration of the devastating effects these minings (sic) will have and cause to the local environment, vegetation and to the health of the local residents,” the petition read.
“Inasmuch as the Mines and Minerals Act supersedes any local structure, policy and protocol, it is not being adhered to as the local chiefs alongside the local CEOs have become the mouthpieces of these Chinese and at the same time using the authority and name of the President, His Excellency… With due respect and honour, the affected communities request your immediate rescue from these clandestine shenanigans.”
Mines minister Winston Chitando could not be reached for comment.