Resisting the Sengwa Coal Power Plant in Zimbabwe In Conversation with Melania Chiponda

Publication date:
44:44 minutes

The Tonga people of Zimbabwe and Zambia, who call themselves  the river people, speak of the pain of being separated from their relatives, who all of a sudden were made foreigners, stuck on the opposite side of a dam, in another country. All this, so that a massive dam, the largest man-made lake in Africa, could be built. The Kariba dam, which has one of the biggest hydropower stations in Africa, came at a great price. 


Podcast by

Fast-forward just one generation later, in a case of history repeating itself, though this time under a post-independence government, another injustice of similar proportions appears imminent. The Zimbabwe government has struck a deal for another mega energy project. This time, a coal thermal power plant  in Sengwa, Gokwe.  The  Sengwa coalfield, which extends into Binga, has an estimated 538 million tonnes of coal reserves, and if a power plant is constructed, it will vastly change the lives of another generation of Tonga people. And not for the better. 

In Zimbabwe, power cuts are nothing to talk about, and it is quite obvious that there is need for an energy solution.  However, our guest on the program makes the case that building a 3 billion dollar power plant, financed with a loan from China, is not the solution to Zimbabwe’s energy woes. Not only is it a tragedy for the Tonga people, but also for the environment, for public health, and for long term sustainability and the country’s adherence to its climate change commitments. 

Melania Chiponda is a Zimbabwean feminist activist and researcher. She is a land defender, and has been at the forefront of battles against extractivism in Zimbabwe and in the Southern African region in general. In her work with Just Associates Southern Africa (JASS), she has been involved in feminist movement building and feminist popular education around the extractives sector. She speaks about her work in Binga, in particular about the resistance to the proposed power plant. 

Ideas into movement

Boost TNI's work

While you're here please consider making a donation to support our work. We're committed to making our valued research available for use without charge but we need your help. If everyone reading this gave just €12 we could sustain our work for three years. 

Make a donation