Dinde is a sprawling, poverty-stricken community located 40km east of Hwange along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
In 1937, this mixed community of Nambya and Tonga speakers was forcibly evicted from their ancestral homeland in Sinamatella and resettled in barren Dinde to make way for the Hwange National Park.
Dilapidated pole and mud huts sit atop the hillocks, defiantly proving that even after 41 years in an independent Zimbabwe, the benefits of trophy hunting they were told to expect from the game reserve they helped to create are still evading them.
The elderly who trekked from Sinamatella 84 years ago may witness history repeat itself when they are evicted to make way for a Chinese-owned start-up that was recently granted a licence to open a coal mine in Dinde, as shown in this track-down produced in collaboration with Information for Development Trust (IDT).
The IDT is a non-profit organisation supporting journalists to investigate public sector corruption and bad governance.
Beifa Investments is a Hwange-based, Chinese-owned coal exploration vehicle, which was in December 2019 licensed by government to carry out coal exploration in a special grant that covers virtually all of Dinde communal lands under the Hwange Rural District Council.
The company’s main investor is an entity identified in official documents only as “Jinan”.
It remains unclear if this is the same company or another linked to Chinese diamond miner Jinan, which operated in Marange for over a decade and was kicked out with several others over allegations of multi-billion gem leaks.
When the company surveyors went to Dinde in December 2019, they immediately angered locals by invading homesteads and farming fields to scout for drilling sites without consulting the occupants of the land, civic or traditional leaders.
Beifa Investments plans to drill at least 100 exploration wells over a total area of 21 000 hectares of land in wards 13 and 14. If coal mineralisation is confirmed, the company will start open-cast mining operations on 3 100 hectares and expand guided by the mineral resource.
Exploration is already underway with an initial staff complement of 13.
Although the company claimed in papers submitted to government that all 13 would be locals, it did not reveal that the workforce already includes seven Chinese machine operators and two surveyors, leaving locals to fight for just four menial jobs suited for unqualified personnel.
To date, Beifa Investments has not employed a single member of the Dinde community in any capacity.