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Article

1 Dec 2022

Author:
Mary Taruvinga, New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: Chiadzwa communities affected by diamond mining approach lawyers to stop police from blocking their protests against mining companies

‘Chiadzwa villagers up in arms with diamond mining companies; accuse police of blocking protests’ 29 November 2022

CHIADZWA villagers are at loggerheads with some diamond mining companies over failure to share proceeds from minerals in their area. The villagers have been intending to hold demonstrations over the issue but have been blocked by the police on two occasions. They named Chief Superintendent Plaxedes Mbira, the Officer Commanding ZRP Mutare Rural District, as the one who stopped them. They have since engaged lawyers in a bid to stop the police from blocking their protests against the companies.

According to Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), a Trustee of Chiadzwa Community Development Trust – Newman Chiadzwa – wrote to Mbira as the Regulating Authority of ZRP Mutare Rural District on 26 October 2022 notifying her of his organisation’s intention to stage a demonstration on 8 November 2022 and to hand over a petition to some diamond mining companies operating in Chiadzwa in Manicaland Province. “Chiadzwa said the demonstration was aimed at demanding payment of proceeds from the diamond sales, which was promised to the Chiadzwa community under the Chiadzwa Community Share Ownership Trust in 2019 by government, which owns a stake in the diamond mining companies,” said ZLHR. “Chiadzwa protested that the Chiadzwa community is languishing in poverty while diamonds are being extracted and sold and hence the community deserves to have its share from the sales.”

… On 3 November 2022, Chiadzwa once again wrote a letter to Mbira notifying her of his intention to hold the demonstration and petition at Zengeni, which is a village in Chiadzwa on 15 November 2022. But this too was turned down by Mbira on 9 November 2022, who advised Chiadzwa that the demonstration could not go ahead on the basis that his notice was not in compliance with section 10(1)(c) of MOPO Act, which bars demonstrations within a radius of 100 metres of any protected place. Mbira also referred to section 5(2) of the Protected Places and Areas Act, stating that she could not guarantee the conduct and behaviour of the protestors within a protected area.