STATE-OWNED gem miner, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has reportedly ordered an investigation into allegations of violence and human rights abuses in Marange, NewsDay Weekender has learnt.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In a statement, rights lobby group Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) said in the aftermath of the demonstrations by villagers in Marange last month, ZCDC had convened a meeting to discuss “security issues” in the area.
“Following the April 23 Marange demonstration the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), the State-owned company mining diamonds in Marange has called for an Indaba to discuss the security situation in Marange as raised by the Marange community in a petition jointly submitted with CNRG on March 2. The proposed meeting will bring together key government ministries, especially in the security sector, which have a role in providing security in Marange,” CNRG director, Farai Maguwu said.
He said ZCDC chief executive, Moris Mpofu told a meeting between the government-owned gem miner and CNRG that the company had “taken note of three key demands”.
“Removal of Marange from its placement under Protected Places and Areas Act. Government must find ways of protecting the diamond fields without imprisoning the entire community, an end to the use of violence and torture as punishment to artisanal miners and tangible development in Marange
“ZCDC officials said, while the first demand falls within the purview of the government, the company is seriously looking into the items the second and third, adding that ZCDC has put out a tender for a private investigator to look into allegations of violence and torture by ZCDC security guards,” the CNRG statement read.
In late April, scores of angry villagers staged a demonstration accusing the company of stripping their area of resources without any social responsibility programmes. The protesters also accused ZCDC of failing to create jobs and eradicate poverty in the area among other issues.
ZCDC has also asked the CNRG “to come up with a proposal for improving security in Marange without any collateral damage on the community”.
“CNRG welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Marange situation with the company board and executive. (We) recommended that the June 2 meeting should give space for the affected community to speak openly and also make recommendations on the way forward.
“It is our sincere hope the meeting will deliver the much needed relief to the people of Marange and provide a lasting solution to the security challenges in the area,” Maguwu said.
Dozens have allegedly been killed and maimed at the hands of State security agents since the precious gems were discovered over a decade ago, forcing global diamond trade watcher the Kimberly Process at some point to characterise Zimbabwe’s diamonds as “blood diamonds”.
ZCDC public relations and community development manager Sugar Chagonda confirmed meeting Maguwu and added there will be an all-stakeholders meeting next month to thrash out security issues.
“The CNRG raised issues around security and we are willing to listen. I can confirm that we met Maguwu and his team last week and as a responsive and responsible company we will be meeting all stakeholders including local communities as well as the security forces to discuss issues of security. We want to operate in a secure environment and in sanity.
“To show our goodwill we have signed memorandum of understanding with bonafide development trusts in the area and are currently looking at proposals from the Bocha Diamond Development Trust,” Chagonda said.