ZMDC warned against eviction of villagers

MUTARE - Nine livid human rights groups have warned Mutare’s district administrator against allowing Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZMDC)’s arbitrary relocation of 26 Chiadzwa families to pave way for mining operations.

The rights groups threatened to sue the DA Edgars Seenza in his personal capacity for violating the families’ constitutional rights.

Marange Development Trust; Platform for Youth Development; Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust; Centre for Research and Development; Natural Resource Dialogue of Zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights; Zimbabwe Human Rights Association; Transparency International-Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association said the Tinoengana villagers were protected from arbitrary eviction by Section 74 of the constitution. 

The consortium of civic organisations said they were convinced government would not forcibly remove the villagers without consulting them and properly conducting a valuation of their properties as demanded by the constitution.

The families are due for relocation today (December 3).

“It is our firm belief that the ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage which is the custodian of communities could not have sanctioned arbitrary and forceful evictions of Chiadzwa villagers. As civil society organisations, we are therefore appalled by the un-Constitutional actions and direct contraventions of the supreme law of the land. 

“We are hereby writing to your office to warn you to stop these illegal, unlawful and unprocedural evictions, failing which will result in us pursuing direct legal action against you in your personal capacity,” reads the letter.

They said Section 74 of the Constitution protects citizens against arbitrary evictions. The Section states that, ‘no person may be evicted from their home, have their home demolished, without an order of court made after considering all relevant circumstances’. 

“It is our firm belief that the government through its ministries, including the parent ministry which your office falls under the ministry of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage, upholds the Constitutional values and the spirit of Constitutional founding values of transparency, justice, accountability and responsiveness,” the organisations said. 

They also held a press conference in which they demanded the placing on hold of the 130 people in the 26 affected households until “the process is agreed in consultation with the communities”.

They also want the “immediate cessation of threats and intimidation of villagers by the DA and state security operatives meant to coerce villagers in Tinoengana to agree to forced relocations.”

The civic organisations also want all mining operations in Tinoengana and surrounding villages by ZCDC halted until an environmental impact assessment is conducted in consultation with the communities.

They also want an independent and transparent evaluation of properties and assets of communities; and another independent assessment of destination amenities, consistent with livelihood and welfare upliftment for the displaced if relocation is agreed, as well as a demand for compliance with all constitutional provisions.

The organisations said they were wary of a repeat of previous evictions and relocation of villagers which they said were accompanied by opaque compensation arrangements, and serious disruptions of affected villagers’ livelihoods and way of life.

“Previous evictions of Chiadzwa communities to Arda Transau, in which the villagers were duped to accepting relocation with a nominal $1 000 disturbance allowances, inadequate food handouts, reduced land sizes, inadequate grazing and agricultural land, destruction of livelihoods, inadequate housing, inadequate health facilities, schools and clean, safe and potable water,” they said in the statement. 

They however expressed worry that while the “previous arrangement was conducted in cahoots with foreign-owned companies, the current evictions are being driven by the government of Zimbabwe in violation of the Constitution.”

Industrial diamond extraction in Chiadzwa has led to the displacement of 1 300 families, affecting over 7,000 people in Marange since 2009, they said.

Between 2014 and 2015, there was acknowledgement of fiscal leakages, illicit financial flows, massive corruption, and lack of fiscal transparency resulting in the establishment of ZCDC in 2016.

Comments (1)

guys, Zimbabge is actually Rhodesia - in honour of Cecil John Rhodes, who led efforts that resulted in the great railway to be built to Salisbury, now abused as Harare. Rhodes civilised Rhodesia and established the borders as per the Berlin Conference. The majority black native citizens were, in a period of less than 90 years, transformed from primitive savages into a Christian nation of modern travellers, professionals, drivers, doctors, con-preachers ... . It is surely to the benefit of the same modernised black native citizens to realize and appreciate where modernity and employment and bacon come from and have come from, or at least a near sure promise that "one shall harvest after sowing", the occurrences of drought and el Niño considering. We need to ditch our political liars. Who can motivate why really no MP would table a motion to dissolve the cursed Zimbabwe and its cursed flag and remove the border along Limpopo and simply become a super province of an expanded South Africa. The benefits would be immense and immediate. But alas, politicians see this as a non-starter. Young blacks we must realise that we are next after the rhino. lord-v-mercy.

maombo david - 3 December 2016

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