Compiled by Fidelis Chima
Hwange town is endowed with vast
coal deposits and the first company to mine coal is Hwange Colliery Company
Limited and was founded in 1899.Due to shortages of electrical power and
foreign currency in the country the number of investors mainly Chinese
companies are increasingly investing in coal projects to boost electrical power
and foreign currency.
Some of these coal mining
investments in Hwange are being resisted by affected communities as they cite
lack of effective participation by locals in the Environmental Impact
Assessment consultations, yet effective public participation is the key
precondition for transparent and accountable governance. It helps the poorest
of the poor in society including rural communities to participate in decisions
that impact them.
In 2020 government was forced to
ban mining activities in national parks after pressure from the local people
and beyond protested against Afrochine and Zhongxin intended coal mining
In 2021 Dinde Residents Association petitioned the Portfolio Committee on Environment, Climate and Tourism. The petition was signed by 20 petitioners ,mainly alleged that Geovannah Consultancy ,which was contracted by Biefer Investments to do an exploration Environmental Assessment for coal mining did not consult the affected Katambe villagers. The petitioners also alleged that the participants register in the EIA document reflected names of people who did not originate or reside in Katambe Village in Dinde.
The portfolio committee
recommended that the Minister of Environment ,Climate Change ,Tourism and
Hospitality Industry to amend the Environmental Management Act ,to clearly
spell out the scope and standards to be followed by registered Consultants on
stakeholders consultations by 31 December 2021 ,it also recommended that
Environmental Management Agency needs to introduce capacity building
initiatives for communities in mining areas to understand the EIA processes and
provide the local leadership with the requisite information that empowers them to
handle the consultation processes by 31 December 2021 and the portfolio
committee concluded by saying that if the rights of communities living in
mining areas are not protected and guaranteed and transparency and
accountability are not upheld ,the nation will witness divisions and
disagreements between and among communities because of investment in their
respective areas .Communities need to be informed and adequately capacitated to
be fully knowledgeable about mining ventures so that they decide from an
informed point of view.
It is disappointing to note that recommendations
that were made by the Portfolio committee that seeks to build a social contract
between citizens ,government and business to constructively engage in a more informed
,direct and beneficial manner have not be implemented.