State Drops Charges Against Hwange Environment Activist

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By Staff Reporter

THE state Friday withdrew charges against the Hwange’s Dinde Development Association chairperson Never Tshuma who was arrested in April for resisting a coal project by Chinese nationals in Katambe village under Chief Nekatambe.

Tshuma was on $10 000 bail and was facing two counts of inciting violence after he allegedly led a group of villagers to dismantle a tent that was pitched by Chinese Beifar Investments.

The company is exploring coal in the area.

Tshuma who was represented by Joylyn Change of Muvhiringi and Associates was under his bail conditions ordered not to visit the Katambe area where the incident occurred.

The Centre for Natural Resources(CNRG) confirmed the withdrawal of Tshuma’s charges in a statement.

“The state has withdrawn, Friday 30 July case against the leader of Dinde Resident Association Never Tshuma. The reason for withdrawal was not given,” CNRG said.

“Tshuma was arrested on April 15, 2021, on allegations of inciting violence after Katambe Community members stormed Beifa Investments exploration site in defence of their land rights.”

“Banishing Never Tshuma from his rural home served as a painful reminder of the repressive colonial laws inherited by independent Zimbabwe which were used to contain Zimbabweans’ resistance to colonial rule.

“The bail condition denied Never Tshuma access to his family and also infringed on his freedom of movement, association, conscience and also his cultural rights.”

The CNRG said Tshuma’s arrest was meant to break the spirit of the Dinde Community and distract it from the real fight of asserting their rights; and demanding transparency and accountability on the Beifa Investment coal project.

“The withdrawal of the case gives the community an impetus to channel its energy to fight for their constitutionally guaranteed rights, especially Section 13 which calls for their involvement “in the formulation and implementation of development plans and programmes that affect them.”

The community of Dinde has been fighting to stop exploration for coal by Beifa Investments, citing breach of constitutionally guaranteed rights and cultural protocols.

The community contends that should the project continue, they will be subjected to forced relocation while others will be exposed to air and water pollution as the Nyantuwe River, which provides drinking water for humans and livestock, will not be spared.

They also fear the loss of livelihoods and grazing land for their livestock, destruction of cultural heritage sites such as community graveyards and ancient graves of the Nekatambe Chieftainship as well as contamination of ritual sites in that area.

“The CNRG condemns the granting of exploration and mining rights on land that belongs to communities and the persecution of individuals and communities defending their heritage.”