State withdraws charges against Dinde activist

By Tinashe Mungazi

In a twist of events in the Dinde saga the state has withdrawn its case against the vice-chairperson of Dinde Residents Association, Never Tshuma citing lack of interest in the case.

Tshuma was arrested on 15 April following scuffles that took place in Dinde after Katambe community members stormed Beifer Investments exploration site in an effort to block the Chinese company from starting work.

He was subsequently charged with incitement of violence and since then the case has faced false starts with Covid-19 exacerbating the situation. However, in a turn of events, the state seemed to have a change of heart and decided to withdraw the case.

Tshuma’s lawyer, Gerald Taremekedza Musengi of Mvhiringi and Associates confirmed the development to CITE arguing that the state had no evidence of wrongdoing.

“Yes, I can confirm that we have managed to have the case withdrawn. The circumstances were primarily that the complainant felt that they could not pursue the matter anymore that’s the only reason they gave. Also, the inquiry was that there was no case,” said Musengi.

Tshuma who was on bail had to endure the agony of not being able to visit his homestead after the court barred him as part of his bail conditions.

Dinde villagers have been embroiled in a bitter standoff with the Chinese company which they accuse of failing to consult them on a proposed coal mining project which would affect their livelihoods. The villagers have employed several attempts to block the company from commencing its works including petitioning Parliament.

Greater Whange Residents Trust (GWRT) welcomed the development arguing that residents were worried about the lack of sustainable development.

“We welcome the withdrawal of charges against Tshuma. The communities are worried about the mushrooming of mining companies without sustainable development, without proper consultations with affected communities and no corporate social responsibility that is meaningful,” said GWRT coordinator, Fidelis Chima.

He called for the reformation of the law to enable communities to benefit.

“The mines and minerals act should be reformed so that communities affected by mining activities also benefit from the minerals in their localities as shareholders and also they should not be evicted without their views being seriously taken into consideration and more importantly there should be reasonable and prompt compensation to the affected communities.”

Meanwhile, Centre for Natural Resources Governance director, Farai Muguwu said though a battle had been won with the Tshuma case the struggle for land rights continued.

“Regarding the withdrawal of charges I’m happy that Never Tshuma is now able to visit his village and parents after about 3 months of banishment from his community and land. We say the charges were never supposed to be there in the first place he was being wrongfully persecuted for standing up for what is right for his community, land and people. Now I think the community must continue defending their right to exist, land and heritage. So the struggle for the Dinde community continues it dates back to 2019 when these people were first contacted by Beifer Investment and they clearly made their thoughts known that didn’t want the investment and to be move from their area. It’s a dirty investment and the Chinese have shown complete disregard of the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.

“Therefore we cannot condone such a situation where people come all the way to come and drive our people off the land. We don’t care what letter they carry or authority which has granted them permission but the reality is that according to the constitution it is our land and noone can come and tell us to just go.”

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