Villagers want end to diamond fields terror 

Source: Villagers want end to diamond fields terror – DailyNews Live

Andrew Kunambura      1 March 2018

HARARE – Marange villagers have petitioned President Emmerson Mnangagwa,
pictured, and Parliament to help lift restrictions imposed on their
movement in 2009 which they claim has exposed them to abuse by security
forces and guards at the government-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond
Company (ZCDC).

ZCDC did not comment on the petition although in the past, its boss Morris
Mpofu, has strongly denied the villagers’ accusations while accepting
there could have been “one or two” incidents which were “isolated”.

Government in 2009 invoked the Protected Areas and Places Act to restrict
movement of villagers and trespassers as part of security measures aimed
at protecting companies that were mining the gems as well as warding off
unscrupulous dealers.

The petition was submitted to Parliament on Tuesday and will be taken to
Mnangagwa as well as the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC).

Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), the Bocha Community
Development Trust (BCDT) and the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust
(CCDT) teamed together to come up with the petition.

Addressing a press conference in Harare yesterday, CNRG director, Farai
Maguwu, alleged that persecution of the villagers who live within the
Chiadzwa diamond fields had worsened since ZCDC took over the claims in

He alleged that 15 people have been killed at the hands of ZCDC security
personnel and warned that the number could be higher.

“The actual deaths known to us are 15. These people were killed in
shootings while some died from dog bites and torture. However, the actual
number of deaths is not known because the State is concealing the scale of
the killings,” Maguwu alleged.

Maguwu has had so many run-ins with the authorities who have since
discredited him and his work.

CCDC chairperson, Gladys Mavusa, said due to the restriction of movement
imposed on Chiadzwa, villagers had now been subjected to life-threatening
harassments by ZCDC security guards.

“We don’t know if we are still being considered as human beings at all. We
live like wild animals enclosed in a game park.

“Our relatives are not allowed to visit us unless they have obtained
clearance letters from Mutare and if you happen to stray into some areas,
the guards set vicious dogs on you.

“Their guards are so powerful that they can even storm funerals and start
searching people or close bars at the business centre. We are leading the
life of animals or even prisoners and this is why we are saying the
government must look into this because we cannot continue like this,”
Mavusa said.

She claimed last year the CCDC assisted 256 torture victims to get medical

Piano Chipindirwe, who was representing traditional leaders, said ZCDC had
imposed a curfew on the villagers.

“I lived during the (the late former Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian) Smith
regime and I can tell you we never saw this happening,” said Chipindirwe.

As a result of the abuses and torture, alleged the three communities, they
were petitioning government and Parliament to swiftly intervene and bring
an end to these violations.

“Whereas section 66(2) of the Zimbabwe Constitution states that every
Zimbabwean citizen and everyone else who is legally in Zimbabwe has the
right to move freely within Zimbabwe, reside in any part of the country
and leave the country at will, we bring to your attention the restriction
to movement and association brought about upon the Marange community by
the discovery of alluvial diamonds in the area in 2006.

“When commercial mining began in 2009, the Robert Mugabe government
declared sections of the Marange community protected areas under the
Protected Areas Places and Areas Act, a law that makes it near impossible
for people to visit relatives or friends.

“The law has seen the Marange community being cut off from the rest of
Zimbabwe so much that in cases of emergency, relatives in other areas are
unable to render assistance to their family members that reside in the
Marange area as they have to produce clearance letters obtained in Mutare,
185km away,” they said in the petition.

“We are also grossly concerned about the continuing harassment of the
Marange community by police, soldiers and security officials of the ZCDC.

“Villagers are required to carry their IDs at all times and when found
without them, they are force-marched to a place named Diamond Base where
they are assaulted and humiliated.

“This ill-treatment has not spared elderly people. It has also become a
norm for ZCDC security guards to handcuff and set vicious dogs on
artisanal miners who would have been captured,” they said of the alleged

The fields in Marange are considered to be one of the world’s biggest
deposits of diamonds.

While the gems were discovered decades ago, a diamond rush only ensued in
2006, resulting in Mugabe’s government deploying the military to restore

At the height of the mining of diamonds, Mbada Diamonds, Marange
Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Kusena and Gye Nyame
were some of the companies which were involved in the extraction of the
gems in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation

The mining companies’ licences were not renewed after Mugabe made a claim
that $15 billion had not been remitted to Treasury during the period the
firms were mining in Marange.

And in a controversial move, the government subsequently replaced the
mining companies with the State-owned ZCDC, which now exclusively carries
out all the mining in the area.

In 2012, long before Mugabe alleged that the $15 billion had been spirited
away, a watchdog group campaigning against “blood” diamonds had also
released a damning report in which it alleged that more than $2 billion
worth of diamonds had been stolen from the Marange fields.