Mutoko villagers in Zimbabwe said the Chinese Jinding mining company had told them they would have to leave their homes to make way for a granite quarry, according to VOA. The company denied they planned to move the villagers forcibly, but a lack of transparency had many fearing they would be pushed out of their ancestral land. As a result, most were reluctant to talk about this topic for fear of retaliation.

Last September, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association reported that Mutoko’s Karimazondo and Chingamuka villagers had already received “some” Chinese officials notice that they would be relocated to pave the way for mining operations. Community members tried in vain to gain information and clarity on the imminent relocations from investors and municipal officials.

A farmer who asked that his name be withheld told VOA, “The area they want is where we live and where our cattle graze. It’s our source of income. We wonder where we will go, the area they want is too huge. Our ancestors’ graves are there, too. We wonder where they will relocate them.” 

He informed VOA of the company’s plan to mine an area of 180 hectares, including some of their homes. However, the mining company did not ask ordinary people about their concerns over the mining project, only the local leaders.

According to activists, more than 50 families could be forced out by one mining company alone.

Richard Ncube, a legal officer with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, said that his group planned to ask the courts to prevent the eviction of villagers.

He said: “In order to help the communities, we are raising awareness on environmental issues. We are researching these issues in order to inform legal reform and then we take matters to court as a last resort to have their remedies addressed or issues addressed.”

On February 1st, Amkela Sidange of Zimbabwe’s Environmental Management Agency declared that Jinding Mining’s environmental impact study had addressed locals’ concerns.

Sidange said: “What we only do as the agency is to take the project that is brought by the project owner, we go through it, we verify whether what is being indicated in the report that consultations were done, were really done. We actually go to the ground and triangulate to check if what is in the report is what actually took place on the ground.”

This type of case also happens in other places in Zimbabwe.

According to the media outlet New Zimbabwe, in January, following a consultation meeting between the villagers and business management, the Binga villagers were given three months’ notice to remove their houses and make way for the building of a coal mine; by the Chinese mining firm “Monalof.”

On February 2nd, Chinese company “Freestone Mines” faced litigation for embarking on quarry mining activities in the Dangamvura Mountain before obtaining the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Last November, this happened after Mutare City Council leased a 16-acre parcel of land surrounding Dangamvura Mountain to Freestone Mines, sparking a civil war because villagers were not consulted previously.

Residents urged that the Chinese miner be relocated to a distant location from residential areas and water distribution systems.

As the Masvingo Mirror reported, civil society groups have raised concern over Chinese corporate activities, claiming they are generating unneeded displacements and inflicting damage on the country’s ecologically vulnerable areas.

Civil Society Groups said: “It is essential to listen to the real people in the affected communities. The Chinese ambassador should find time to tour the Chinese operations and observe working conditions. The Chinese investors in Zimbabwe should be accountable to local communities and open to public scrutiny starting with their contracts, their taxes and beneficial ownership.”

“Sadly, the abundance of natural resources has become the major cause of poverty, inequality, human rights abuses, environmental crimes and transnational organized crimes that are prejudicing the country of billions of dollars annually.”

“Some of these mining operations have left deep scars in the affected communities.” 

In a statement on January 2nd, the groups under the Center for Natural Resources Governance banner said: “We seek to register our deep concern with the behavior of Chinese business operations in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a country endowed with vast natural resources in the minerals, flora and fauna categories. These resources have the potential to reduce poverty and improve human security.”

In January, the Chinese embassy in Harare accused Western nations of funding a media smear campaign in Zimbabwe to disparage Chinese investments.

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