TENDAI BHEBE IN BULAWAYO
At least 600 families in Dinde village, Hwange district, Matabeleland North Province, face imminent eviction from their ancestral homes to pave the way for a Chinese mining company, Business Times can report.
The company, Baifer Investments, is currently exploring for coal in the Dinde areas.
Villagers said their relatives’ graves and sacred shrines were being destroyed, without being consulted.
This emerged at a rural women’s roundtable meeting held in Bulawayo on Monday this week.
The meeting was organised by the Matabeleland Institute For Human Rights (MIHR).
Thembelihle Dlamini, a villager in Dinde and a committee member of the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe said there was panic in Dinde Village as eviction was imminent.
“The company did not even consult us that they have intentions of coming to operate at our place. The company is now digging our graves. They should have asked for permission from us, probably we would have performed rituals on these cemeteries,” Dlamini said.
She said the Dinde village is living in fear as they stare eviction.
“We have built schools, clinics and as women we have our businesses that we have established there.
“As I am talking now, about 600 families or even more are affected. Recently, precious stones were discovered in about four villages in Hwange.
“All those communities will be evicted,” Dlamini said as she appealed to the government to save the community from eviction.
“We also have our river called Nyanduwe and there is gas that is emitted from their working place. It might affect our water and this would make us sick. We are faced with danger as we are prone to contract diseases in the area.”
Dinde is home to thousands of Nambyas and Tongas with a majority of the Tonga who first settled in the then named Whange district up to Victoria Falls.
They were resettled in Dinde after their relocation from Sinamatela area in the 1920s to pave way for the Hwange National Park.
MIHR coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa said the government must formulate a human rights based framework to prevent development induced evictions.
He said human rights constitutional bodies should be involved first whenever there is an eviction.
“Then they do the impact assessment. We trust these commissions better than these consultants hired by the companies because they are paid by the company. These commissions we trust because they are for us,” Maphosa said.