By NQOBANI NDLOVU
A RESEARCH and advocacy civil society group has threatened to take legal action to stop a Chinese mining company from exploring for coal at a family graveyard in Dinde, Hwange in Matabeleland North province.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs minister Richard Moyo last week said there was nothing untoward about Chinese miner Beifa Investment’s company’s coal mining operations in Dinde despite an outcry from villagers that they were desecrating graves.
Instead, Moyo opined that the villagers should rejoice because the Chinese mining activities had created jobs, adding that the project was also expected to result in the construction of a 200-megawatt coal-fired electricity generation plant.
However, the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) argued that the mining operations at a family graveyard could not be allowed to continue.
The advocacy group threatened court action.
“We are engaging a lawyer in Hwange to ensure that there is a court interdict to stop this drilling at the gravesite, and also to stop the whole project because Parliament has sent a fact-finding mission to Dinde in response to a petition by the community,” CNRG director Farai Magawu said.
“When the petition was submitted, the company had not started all this drilling. They started drilling after Parliament had already visited. They are actually in contempt of Parliament because they must have waited for Parliament to make a ruling on their visit, but they went ahead.”
Beifa Investment has repeatedly said its operations are above board, and within the confines of the country’s mining laws.
“All the paperwork done by Beifa Investments (Pvt) Ltd is above board and the company is in strict adherence with the law,” said Beifa Investments (Pvt) Ltd project manager Zhou Zheng Qian in a statement citing Special Grant No 7712 issued to the company on January, 17, 2020,” the company said.
“Beifa Investments has not evicted anyone or shown any intention to evict anyone within the Dinde community. Beifa Investments respects the customs and values of the communities it operates in and it has never been the company’s wish to unsettle or violate such customs and values … categorically denies ever desecrating any graves in the Dinde community as alleged or at all.”
The company once wrote to the Zanu PF Matabeleland provincial leadership requesting protection from its members inciting villagers’ to protest against the firm’s coal-mining operations.
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