Over the years there has been significant changes in land use patterns triggered by an increase in land based investments. The footprint of land based and dependent commercial activities such as large scale commercial agriculture, mining and infrastructure development has been growing across the globe and especially in the Global South. Globally, investment in metals exploration is estimated to have increased ten-fold between 2002 and 2012, and investment in fossil fuels is estimated to have doubled over the same period (Le Billon and Sommerville 2017). There has been a significant growth of plantation agriculture as a result of the demand for food and biofuels. Notwithstanding the commercial viability of these land based investments, the most negative trade off triggered by them has been displacements of poor communities reliant on land for their livelihoods. Thus changes in land use patterns has fuelled a wave of what has been termed as Development Induced Displacements and Resettlements(DIDR). Literature has also termed these displacements as land grabbing. According to a World Bank study in the majority of cases, standards of living have declined and poverty increased amongst those affected by DIDR and especially amongst rural communities with weak land rights.
In Zimbabwe, where the land question remains at the heart of the nation’s political economy, DIDR has taken a huge toll on most rural communities. Zimbabwe has over the years had significant changes in its land use patterns as mining, commercial agriculture and infrastructure development have been at the core of the nation’s development. Mining which is the lifeblood of the Zimbabwean economy (contributing about 60 cents of every $1 from foregin earning) has resulted in what is known as mining induced displacement (MID). MID are increasing as a result of increased allocation of mining rights in areas inhabited by rural households. MID cases includes, Marange community where 4321 families were affected. Families from Chiadzwa village were relocated to Arda Transau Relocation area, 24 km from Mutare in 2009. Historically, MID also happened in Murowa in 2004 when Rio Tinto’s Murowa diamond mine relocated 926 people to six farms purchased by the company under the resettlement program. The same company relocated 142 families to Shashe, about 150 kilometres east of Murowa in 2005. It is worth noting that as more and more mineral deposits are discovered in the country in pursuance of Governments’ plans to get US$ 12 Billion from the mining industry by 2023 and to underpin the country’s economic recovery prospects, more and more cases of forced displacements are likely to arise in the coming years. The National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 and the National Vision “ Towards an upper middle economy by 2030” are both dependent on attracting more mining investments into the country. An unpublished study by the Africa Institute for Environmental Law (AIEL) shows how communities in Sese, a rural village 50 km out of Masvingo live in perennial fear of being displaced as the Government awarded Murowa diamond company with an exploration license for kimberlite diamonds. There is a high possibility of displacement of communities in Hwange as a result of coal mining and in Murehwa, Mutoko and Uzumba as a result of granite mining.
Besides mining induced displacements, a number of DIDR threats or notices have been issued against a number of communities to make large scale agricultural projects and infrastructure development . These include Chilonga in Chiredzi (growing lucerne grass), Chisumbanje (growing sugarcane for ethanol production) and Dinde. Many communities where diamond exploration activities are taking place are apprehensive including Rimbi in Chipinge and Sese in Masvingo. In the case of Chisumbanje, the land displacements have resulted in a series of human rights violations as well as conflict between investors and the community members.
DIDR constitute a major social problem and a challenge for enjoyment of fundamental human rights that are enshrined in the Constitution. In Zimbabwe, mining companies often fail to pay adequate and prompt compensation, give people adequate notice and follow due process before relocation and to provide proper relocation facilities and services before relocation. In the process they violate litany of procedural and substantive environmental social economic and cultural rights. This is partly because residents of communal areas do not own the land and have no title over it. Title is vested in the State and this makes them vulnerable. While the Constitution prohibits forced evictions without a court order many people are evicted from their homes without the required court order. In some cases, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports which are expected to help companies identify the risks of displacement of people and provide for measures to address the impacts are not carried out. This shows non-compliance with the law by mining companies and other development project proponents. In the mining sector, many miners and even Government officials who grant mining licences seem blind to existing laws due to corruption leading to irregular allocation of mining rights. Many miners wrongly believe that the Mines and Minerals Act of 1961 prioritizes mining over other land uses and they can mine anywhere. Zimbabwe does not have a comprehensive policy on induced relocations as a result some mining companies take advantage of this gap.
DIDR are primarily a socio- economic and cultural issue associated with loss or significant reduction of access to basic resources on which communities depend on as witnessed in Chiadzwa. The move to Arda Transau resulted in loss of access to resources such as land, pastures, forests, water as well as intangible resources such as socio-economic ties and a change or modification of the previous economic model (especially the involuntary transition from a land-based to a cash-based economy) for rural people. Recent cases of displacements have subjected communities to much worse socio and economic living conditions than they enjoyed before displacement with their cultural norms and indigenous rights violated.
Murowa had set a good model and example, in the early 2000s, which has largely been viewed as ethical and appropriate for its inclusive and participatory approach leading to development of a resettlement mapping plan, resettlement agreements and a public infrastructure agreement. This includes construction of school and health facilities, relocation of 265 graves, construction of new roads, health center, school, micro-irrigation and agricultural and business training programmes, allowing the people to adapt to their new situation and the development of a local economy. However, this model has not been properly followed, including the Local Authority Circular Number 162 (Policy on the Relocation of People Displaced by Development Projects) of 1992.
The Publish What You Pay Zimbabwe coalition notes that to unlock value out of the existing mineral wealth, Zimbabwe needs investment flows into the mining sector and in some cases displacements have to follow the proper legal channels and international best practice on displacements. Investments must not be pursued at the expense of local communities’ rights. Displacements have to be done in a transparent and accountable manner through free, prior informed consent and leading to appropriate agreements and compensation. Lack of transparency on the mining deals that the government signs with investors and the absence of adequate benefit sharing arrangements have increased tension, negative suspicions and conflicts whenever mining induced displacements are announced. If done properly, conflicts and poverty can be reduced and the lives of mining communities can be improved, bringing in the desired development from mining activities.
In light of this, the Publish What You Pay Zimbabwe Coalition calls on Government of Zimbabwe to commit to the following in case of any mining induced displacements:
- Community consultation and approval through Free Prior and Informed Consent. Communities should decide what they want, and community consent can only be achieved under circumstances of full disclosure and protection of the ‘right to know’. The displacement process must be transparent and all information fully disclosed to the affected parties for them to make an informed decision.Communities can make informed decisions when they have access to information on proposed relocations.
- Inclusive, independent, and consultative assessments. Assessments must be done to identify risks and include identification of the risk exposure for vulnerable groups more likely to suffer disproportionately from the displacement. The assessments must have a gendered analysis. Based on the assessments, social preparation and identification of vulnerable groups and their rightsare defined. This should make provisions for measures put in place to restore the socio economic base of the community including Psycho social support services, compensation, income restoration among others. The assessment must also consider the timing of the relocation process, adequate notice, taking into account time of harvest, school calendar among others.
- Relocation with prompt, fair and adequate compensation. Displacements must have commitment to prompt, fair, and adequate compensation, or rebuilding of lost assets, particularly infrastructure such as housing or lost public facilities at the new location. The compensation must restore income streams, livelihoods and social systems. The aim must be to leave the displaced people in a better off position than before displacement. The relocation/displacement must adopt a human rights based approach.
- Protect mining communities from abusive practices of the mining companies. Lack of law enforcement, lack of secure tenure or strong communal land rights, poor implementation and compliance monitoring encourages the private sector to carry out unjust practices with impunity. Displaced people usually receive inadequately low compensation for their lost properties and sources of livelihoods. Companies do not implement the promised programs and provision of services. Administrative control or supervision of mining companies must not be just for formality, but put in practice. Compliance with the Constitutional provision on prohibition of arbitrary evictions of people from their homes without a court order must always be upheld by the courts and implemented by Government officials.
- Relocation destination preparedness. Displacement plans must be fully implemented and in a proper manner. Mining companies must bear the costs of displacement and must not transfer costs onto the displaced people. The place of relocation must have adequate facilities and services for the people.
- Benefit sharing. A framework must be put in place to ensure the displaced communities share in a project’s benefits. The approach for benefit sharing may include project equity, benefit sharing arrangements, educational investments for the community, development of micro enterprises, or social grants. Another important issue is the granting of secure land rights or title to local communities and, through this, of a share in any profits from the exploitation of resources. For example families relocated from Marange to Arda Transau must be given title deeds for the houses they got from diamond mining companies. In future they may be removed or evicted from those houses.
- Implement international standards on displacements. Displacements must not be done in a chaotic manner without any Resettlement or Displacement Plan. The World Bank directives on involuntary resettlement can be followed. The World Bank directives on involuntary displacement states that those to be displaced should be informed about their rights. In this case, the Local Authority Circular Number 162 (Policy on the Relocation of People Displaced by Development Projects) of 1992 must be revised and a new legal framework governing development induced displacements must be put in place.
Source: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association