Fears of a fresh diamond rush loom in Manicaland

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ANOTHER potential Chiadzwa diamonds disaster is looming in Tsvingwe, near Penhalonga, in Manicaland province amid reports that the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC) engineers have been deployed for exploration of diamonds, a resources pressure group has warned.

Elias Mambo

The presence of mining engineers in Tsvingwe is now seen as a precursor of government’s take-over of the fields and displacement of villagers reminiscent of what happened in Chiadzwa where villagers were subjected to gross human rights abuses when government launched Operation Hakudzokwi (Operation No Return).

This news article is part of the ongoing investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plundering at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.

In an interview this week, director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance Farai Maguwu said government has deployed mining engineers to carry out explorations in Tsvingwe.

“We are likely to witness another Chiadzwa as government has already deployed engineers to explore the area,” Maguwu said. “It started in March when ZCDC told Tsvingwe villagers that they may be evicted to pave way for diamonds mining.

“We engaged ZCDC officials, who said the exploration is underway, but surprisingly they came back and asked villagers to sign forms accepting that they will be evicted and compensated by government.

“Our issue is very simple, deal with villagers who are yet to be compensated in Chiadzwa first and then come to Tsvingwe. We cannot allow another Chiadzwa to take place in Tsvingwe.”

Maguwu also said the local legislator, Irene Zindi, came and advised the villagers that there is nothing she could do to stop the evictions.

In Chiadzwa, thousands of villagers were evicted and promised compensation, but only a few got houses in Arda Transau while the rest are still wallowing in poverty.

Before the forced evictions took place in Chiadzwa, government deployed armed soldiers and security details who committed gross human rights violations as they forcibly removed villagers and panners from the area.

As reported by this paper at the time, Chiadzwa villagers were taken by surprise because they thought negotiations with government were going on in earnest until they woke up one morning with armed soldiers having sealed off the area.

Unbeknown to the panners, anti-riot police details from the Police Support Unit had arrived in large numbers. They had sealed the mountain and were just waiting for the order to start a massive operation to clear thousands of illegal miners from Marange.

As the order to start the operation came — a precursor to Operation Hakudzokwi — under which grisly human rights abuses and killings were to be committed by security forces, the officers ruthlessly and systematically fired gun shots as miners clambered the mountains.

Maguwu said the villagers have bitter memories of the Chiadzwa atrocities perpetrated by the government, which is supposed to protect the rights of its people.

“We are on the ground capacitating the villagers to make serious considerations before they are left homeless again,” Maguwu said. “They may stall the process now because we are heading for elections, but shortly after the election, bulldozers will be deployed to Tsvingwe with gun-totting soldiers forming the advance team,” he said.

“Tsvingwe shall be another Marange. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. How miserable those days will be for pregnant and nursing mothers! Pray that it will not occur in the winter.”

Maguwu added: “Zimbabweans must defend their land and properties with their lives against this most violent, grotesque, inhumane and environmentally catastrophic criminal activity called mining.”

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