Chinese activities are an ubiquitous feature on the African continent. They have been welcomed enthusiastically by the politicians and other developers, but have met a fair mix of scepticism from the locals. And for these Zimbabwean villagers, such projects are disappointing them.
A Chinese company called Aihua Jianye has plans to commence quarry mining in Domboshava, a rocky area north of Harare, Zimbabwe's capital. The villagers in Domboshava are against this, as they strongly believe that nothing comes out of Chinese investment in the country.
"Leave our Domboshava alone Go to your Beijing," reads one of the placards a vilager holds in protest.
However, the question is that in as much as the villagers may detest Chinese activity in their area, what power do they have to stop the project from proceeding?
70-year-old Florence Nyamande, a local in the area, raised her concerns poignantly.
"The Chinese are the money mongers of Zimbabweans. They take riches here, they take it to China. They do not develop our places. So we do not need them here,” Nyamande said. “Seriously with a deeper heart, seriously with a mind, we are disappointed. We said 'No' and 'No'. That is multiplicated (multiplied) No."
This alone just speaks volumes of the nature of Chinese activity on the African continent. In most of the cases, it's the Chinese who benefit while the Africans do not gain anything except effects of land degradation.
The company promised 500 jobs in the area, but the villagers do not believe this. All they are probably anticipating is adverse land degradation through large ponds filled with dirty water.
Zimbabwe has been in a frenzy to attract foreign investment. But even some in the government are doubting the intentions of this Chinese company.
Energy Mutodi, the deputy minister of Information said, "It [Zimbabwe] is open to business, but not to business that is going to affect our environment. We want to preserve the environment. We want our community to develop, yes. But let our environment remain intact. We cannot have a situation come here take the proceeds, enjoy it in other countries, yet our people remain poor.” And Mutodi also said that the company only advertised for 40 jobs in the area.
There are worries that the project will cause serious harm to a graveyard and a natural spring.
However, the company's representatives refute these allegations.
"Not even a grave is going to be moved. But there is a misconception. We proposed that that the graves be fenced. There is a spring, which is above the grave site, we proposed that the spring be fenced too," the company's representative said.
All we know is, there is no smoke without fire.
Header image credit - The Zimbabwean