By Farai Maguwu
A week ago, our organization, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), received a distress call from the Dinde Community in Hwange. Some Chinese nationals teamed up with the local Chief and local businessman to start a coal mining project in Dinde communal lands. We responded to the Macedonian call for help by visiting Dinde together with my colleague at CNRG. We spent 2 days with the community, gathering information about events unfolding there.
According to Dinde Residents, from February 2019 to December 2019, a team of Chinese nationals toured the village
without consulting or engaging locals. In December 2019, the same team brought some light weight machinery and set up a camp behind one Emelia Mukombwe’s homestead within the village – where they intended to start drilling. Locals approached the Chinese, who failed to produce documents authorising them to explore in the area. The Chinese intended to drill 13 holes in a straight line of a 1, 9 kilometre stretch without due care of what was in that path.
In a show of resistance, locals ordered them to leave and return with documents granting them permission to work in Dinde. Thereafter, the Chinese investors returned to Dinde with several officers from the Environmental Management Agency, Hwange Rural District Council, Traditional Leadership, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Zimbabwe National Army and a local miner, to coerce the villagers.
Yesterday, 5 Feb 2021, the Chinese arrived with their equipment in Dinde and ready to start their activities. The locals teamed up again and told them to go away. Today a Police officer arrived in the community and interviewed the locals on why they were resisting the project.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND DINDE COMMUNITY
On the 8th of January 2020, a delegation of local community members was dispatched to Hwange Rural District office to establish the legality of the operations by the Chinese. According to Dinde Residents Association, Hwange RDC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Phindile Ncube told them that the Chinese had a Special Grant for exploration. According to the Mines and Minerals Act, in Zimbabwe, special grants are issued by the President in respect for land reserved against prospecting, like the communal land.
On the 11th of June 2020, the Chinese are said to have returned Dinde village again, this time in the company of Chief Charles Nekatambe, a Mr. Ncube and a Chilota Colliery Company (Pvt) Limited proprietor, Mr Lazarus Kwidini. The Chief, Mr. Kwidini and Mr. Ncube are said to have acted as gatekeepers, barring interaction between the locals and the Chinese nationals. Mr Kwidini reportedly told the villagers that these Chinese were working on Chilota Colliery’s concession while Chief Nekatambe reportedly intimidated villagers, threatening to get the villagers arrested. The Chinese returned to Dinde again on the 11th of November and 15 December 2020 accompanied by the same people who included traditional leadership, state security agents and EMA officials. Threats were issued again in a bid to muzzle the community’s freedom of expression and their ‘Right to Say No’ to destructive development projects.
DINDE COMMUNITY HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Dinde is home to thousands of Nambyas and Tongas with a preponderance of the Tonga who first settled in Whange district up
to Victoria Falls right upstream of the Zambezi River between 300 AD and 400 AD. The Nambyas tracked in from Masvingo in the early 19th century. According to a local traditional leader’s narration, most people who settled in Dinde area were relocated from Sinamatela area in 1920 to pave way for a game reserve (Hwange National Park). The area has had five Chiefs since its establishment in 1920 and four of the chiefs who have passed on are buried near the site where the Chinese want to mine
Zimbabwean Lives Matter
Surely we cant be a sovereign country that allows so called investors to come and evict our people from their homes willy nilly. I am still to establish whether it is true that the President issued a Special Grant to these criminals. There is also a high possibility they are abusing the name of the President to put fear in the community and break down any resistance to their nefarious activities. The President was elected to uphold the constitution and serve and defend the interests of the Zimbabwean people first and foremost. Making Zimbabweans homeless, landless and destitute in their own country is unpatriotic and against the values of our society. No Zimbabwean citizen has ever evicted Chinese pple off their land in China. Our dignity must be respected.
If you have a homestead in rural areas, then you are a perfect candidate for land dispossession and displacement. Zimbabweans lets unite and fight this good fight. If govt has sold out then lets unite and reclaim our country – drawing inspiration from our patriarchs and matriarchs who heroically defended their motherland against colonial rule, even to the shedding of their own blood, in 1893 and 1896-7.
CNRG has engaged Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights who will be taking up the case with the courts on Monday. This is just one route but there are many available.
At CNRG we call upon all communities facing eviction from their ancestral land in the name.of so-called development projects to approach us. You have a constitutional right to live on that land. Do not give it away. Fight for it, resist displacement, guard your rivers, cultural heritage sites and your land inheritance. Guard the graves of your loved ones (or they will be dug up as we witnessed in Marange). Keep your grazing fields. Zimbabwe is our country and we have a constitutional duty to defend it from resource plunder, land grabbing and pollution of our beautiful rivers. It doesn’t matter who is inviting criminals to our country, we do not mind what documents they are armed with, we must defend our heritage. Do not comply with unjust and unpatriotic decisions. If the Law and the Government are failing to protect us then we must defend ourselves against colonialism. Zimbabwe is OUR country.
We would like to advise that this so-called investment project must NOT happen. To all the criminals harassing our people and threatening them with eviction from their land, we are going to fight you by any means necessary! We have been famed for being the nicest people in Africa, which may be a euphemism for being passive and harmless. This will soon change. Hands off our villages! Go back to where you came from or go and explore in the private property of whosoever invited you. We are tired of being refugees and squatters in our own country. Asifuni bumbulu. Let the games begin. chaChimurenga / Umvukela.