Dinde activist trial postponed

By Tinashe Mungazi

Dinde activist, Never Tshuma who stands accused of inciting public violence will have to wait a little longer before his case is heard after he was further remanded to 30 July.

Tshuma whose is out on bail is being accused of allegedly inciting influencing villagers to riot against Chinese company, Beifer Investment sometime in May.

The Dinde community in Hwange district has been resisting the establishment of a coal mining project arguing that their livelihoods would be negatively affected.

The skirmishes that ensued between disgruntled villagers and the company’s consultant led to the arrest of Tshuma. As part of his bail conditions Tshuma was barred from going to his rural home in Dinde.

However, the case which has attracted a lot of attention has faced false starts with the latest being caused by Covid-19. The state advised provincial magistrate, Barbra Phiri yesterday that they could not proceed with the trial as a result of the suspension of all courts from conducting trials due to Covid 19.

“Your worship, we have received a circular from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) advising of the suspension of trials due to the number of cases being reported. The state proposes the the date for trial be moved to 30 July where a determination can be made on the actual trial day,” said state prosecutor, Belinda Moyo.

Speaking outside Hwange Magistrates Court following the case’s remand, Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) director, Farai Maguwu raised concern over the delays arguing that the development was prejudicing Tshuma from spending time with his family.

“Well the case has been postponed again. However, we realize that it has a negative bearing on Never who cannot visit his home from which he is banned from doing under his bail conditions. These companies don’t have  what we call a social  licence  that is why we are here at the courts. A community member who is defending their land  and cultural rights was arrested because they are simply exercising their rights to say no.  This clearly  means that these projects are being imposed on the community and this is being done criminally and defiantly against expressed will of the Dinde people,” said Maguwu.

He accused the companies of looting resources while leveraging on political connections leaving communities counting the losses.

“We first need to call them by their proper name, they are not investors rather these are criminal networks that are linked to politicians in this country who only think about their pocket. An investor creates employment, financial bring resources, leaves behind infrastructure and leads development of the area where they is extraction taking place.”

The district has seen a proliferation of Chinese companies venturing into coal mining, processing and construction of thermal power stations. Residents and safari operators are contesting the awarding of a special mining grant to Afrochine to mine in a safari area in Hwange National Park. The company which received the greenlight to mine after being given an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) denies that the area is within the protected area.

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