Minister Chitando Expected In Hwange To Quell Chinese, Locals Fight

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

HWANGE: Mines Minister Winston Chitando is expected to visit the Dinde community here Thursday to quell a potential storm where villagers have vowed not to allow a Chinese company set up a coal and gold mine in the area.

Villagers fear they will be displaced by a coal mine being set up by the Chinese, once again without following proper procedures of consulting locals and carrying out an environmental impact assessment.

There are more than a dozen Chinese companies exploring for coal in Hwange.

However, they have become unpopular with a series of abuses on workers and massive environmental and infrastructure destruction.

In September last year, two Chinese companies courted the anger of not only Hwange community, but a cross section of Zimbabweans and wildlife activists as well as conservationists after they explored for coal in the protected Hwange National Park.

Workers from the two companies were discovered by ZimParks rangers while drilling in the game park and were handed over to police, but the Asian nationals produced a permit showing they had been granted a special grant by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, the special grant was later revoked following widespread outcry from a cross section of people.

Now, some Chinese are reportedly exploring for coal and gold in Dinde, Dete and Makwandara areas just outside Hwange and have courted the ire of local villagers who also believe their community leaders are involved in the illegal activities.

Villagers said they fear Chinese “carelessness” in mining will lead to land degradation, pollution of the nearby Inyantue River, which is their main source of water for livestock and also the displacement of the community.

“Everybody knows how the Chinese have destroyed instead of enhancing livelihoods in Hwange. Deka River is highly polluted while all roads are destroyed.

We can’t allow that to happen to Inyantue River,” said one of the village leaders Never Mhlanga.

He said communities in Hwange district have for decades been displaced several times and cannot allow it anymore.

According to a communique from the Mines Ministry, Chitando is expected to meet the villagers at the VDC premises near Dinde Business Centre Thursday.

The meeting with Chitando was aborted two weeks ago after the villagers declined to be divided into smaller groups that comply with the Covid-19 regulations.