The Chilonga community in Chiredzi district, South Eastern Zimbabwe has been on the horns of a dilemma since the government informed them of the proposed displacement to make way for lucerne grass farming.
The displacement of indigenous Shangani minority will be the last straw for the community still brooding over the 1963 relocations despite several not having witnessed it.
This came up during the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association lawyers case identification visits across the country’s mining communities which ran from 17-20 May 2021 that saw the team visiting Chiredzi, Chipinge, Marange, Hwange, Zvishavane and Bulawayo.
Chilonga communities narrated how they are now living in fear after several human rights defenders have received threats from alleged repressive state apparatus such as alleged members of the central intelligence organization. They also shared how sometimes they are coerced to speak on camera in support of the proposed project, despite being opposed to the idea.
The question in the minds of many is whether the government will cut the Gordian knot on the project for the sake of the Chilonga community?
ZELA lawyers also took time to interact with other lawyers across the country. From the dialogue with the local communities some of the mining companies’ operations are conducted without Environmental Impact Assessments, there is also environmental degradation, assault, theft and murder cases in the Artisanal and Small-scale mining, unfair labour practices among a cocktail of challenges.
There are several economic, environmental, social, cultural rights violations faced by mining communities and through these engagements, the organisation is better informed on which public interest litigation cases to pursue.
Source: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association