Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust (GGZT), a public interest organisation advocating for inclusion and participation of communities in the mining value chain, notes with concern the recent arrest of a traditional leader and his subjects in the Marange area of Manicaland province over protects against violation of cultural rights, legacy debt and defilement of workers’ rights.
We are alarmed, like all forward thinking organizations lobbying for natural resource governance to drive sustainable development, to learn of the arrest of Headman Robert Chiadzwa and 27 others on 2 November, 2021. Mutare Magistrate Langton Mukwengi is presiding over the case where the State accuses them for violating Section 36 of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, and gaining unauthorized entry onto the mining premises to demand management feedback on the issues raised.
Ironically, on the date in question the community had an appointment with the company management hastily agreed on 28 October 2021 when the community rose as a whole to shut down Anjin operations in demand for fair treatment. As they were making a follow up, exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed rights to seek redress, the company turned on the villagers. Such spurious charges not only expose Anjin for negotiating with the community in bad faith, it reeks of state sanctioned impunity (political protection) always claimed by foreign investors. This unfortunate development comes against the backdrop of formal diamond mining that has failed to feed into the national treasury while the concerned community faces numerous developmental challenges further worsened by the discovery of diamonds. GGZT stands in solidarity with the community and its traditional leaders for challenging the perpetuation of business operations which violate human rights, social and cultural values and the national environmental laws.
Worryingly the Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development, Provincial Mining Director (PMD) Members of Parliament and traditional leaders, have failed to fully explain circumstances leading to the return, in February 2020, of Anjin Investments in Chiadzwa. There is lack of contract transparency around Anjin – a joint venture between Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFFEC) of China and Matt Bronze, a subsidiary of Zimbabwe Defense Industries (ZDI) which is wholly owned by the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA). This lack of transparency and accountability are the major reasons why the Community of Chiadzwa is demanding engagement with Anjin on local economic development and community benefit share as guaranteed in Section 13(4) of the Zimbabwean Constitution. No traditional leader, let alone Headman Chiadzwa aged 90, should be incarcerated, obstructed or hindered from lawfully repre- senting his community and seeking socio economic justice from foreign investors. State security must always be awake to this obligation in their exercise of authority ensuring that they “demonstrate respect of the people and readiness to serve them rather than to rule them”. Section 62 of the Constitution also guarantees the right to access to information and this is the information should not be coerced by citizens but actively facilitated by public officials in respect to Section 196(1)(b) of the Constitution.
We express the foregone benefits of joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to decisively deal with the lack of transparency in the diamond sector, and indeed the mining industry in Zimbabwe. The government of Zimbabwe must also move with speed to finalise the Mines and Mineral Amendment Bill (MMAB) given the national development aspiration of the Vision 2030 to turn the country into an Upper Middle Income Country. Civil society submissions have been made through extensive consultations for a legal instrument that promotes responsible investments, provides benefit sharing, formalise artisanal mining and a framework for devolved mining governance. We therefore call for transformative conflict resolution, fully cognisant of the need to maintain public order in compliance with criminal law dictates, as a sustainable solution to repair the fractious relations between mining investments and the community. We call for the
Parliament of Zimbabwe, Council of Chiefs and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to immediately intervene, to facilitate dialogue between the community and Anjin. Further, a Commission of Inquiry into the plight of Chiadzwa community whose livelihoods, culture and socio-economic activists have been impacted by diamond mining whose finalization should precede a wholesome address of legacy debts by Anjin, displacement compensation of relocated villagers and a defined community corporate development plan.
Source: Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust