Villagers in Dinde, Hwange District, are worried about their future as a Chinese miner, Beifa Investments, continues with its coal exploration project in the area.
Even though most of the villagers say they are opposed to the coal mining project, many are reluctant to openly voice their concerns for fear of retaliation.
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One of the few willing to express his concern was Morris Sibanda who told NewZimbabwe.com that if the project goes ahead, their source of water could be contaminated. Said Sibanda:
My fears are – one: we shall be evicted. Secondly, we have a river called Nyantuwe [where] we get water. That’s our main source of water.
Definitely, if this mine succeeds, my fear is that toxic acids may be found in the river. We don’t have boreholes; we have no anything.
About 600 families fear being displaced if the coal project goes ahead. Other villagers are worried that the project will take away grazing land for their cattle and wildlife.
However, the government says Dinde’s people were consulted before the company was allowed to start mining.
Environmental Management Agency (EMA) education and publicity manager Amkela Sidange said an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report addressed and cleared all of Dinde’s concerns.
Critics say locals and wildlife will be affected by the project and are urging authorities to move away from coal production toward renewable energies.
Farai Maguwu, the director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, a local NGO opposed to the Dinde coal mining project, said there are no clear plans on where the villagers will be taken if they are displaced.
Maguwu also said Zimbabwe needs to move away from “dirty energy” as the country is aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by 2030.