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3 Feb 2020

Center for Research and Development Zimbabwe, Kubatana. Net (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe: Govt. is complicit in human rights abuses in Marange says civil society

‘Govt Controlled Diamond Mining in Marange Masking Resource Leakages and Human Rights Abuse’ 28 January 2020

On 22 January 2019 around 01 00 hours 3 uniformed members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) armed with AK 47 rifles led 49 diamond panners into Portal (A) of Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and looted about 1 tonne of diamond ore. The soldiers disarmed and assaulted 3 security guards namely Moyo Mostead aged 23 (ID 50-145812 R26), Liberty Mbundinga aged 34 (ID 75 356694 Z83) and Sibangane Bandera aged 52 (ID 32 081638 V32). The soldiers then force marched ZCDC guards away from the mine where they handed their weapons back and set them free. An alerted ZCDC reaction team tracked the armed soldiers and their band and exchanged fire with them resulting in the death of one artisanal panner, William Mwedzi aged 37.

Soldiers and security guards operating in Marange are competing forces in illegal diamond digging and smuggling activities. These forces have largely enjoyed government protection for all violent crimes committed on citizens since government entry in Marange diamond mining in 2009. Government complicit in opaque diamond practices has been the major reason for its failure to protect human rights. On January 15 2019, 15 ZNA soldiers, 8 of them in uniform and armed with AK 47 rifles besieged Portal B of ZCDC and held security guards at gun point before looting diamond ore…The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for ZCDC and the ZNA refused to comment on the diamond heist. Incidences of diamond looting involving state security operatives in Marange diamond fields are rampant but concealed by government.

…Government declared Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange a protected area under Protected Places and Areas Act (PPAA) (Chapter 11.12).The act empowers government to control the movement and conduct of people in protected areas. The police have to seek for permission from the Assistant Commissioner (ASCOM) in charge of operations in order to investigate crimes committed by members of the security forces deployed in the area. As a result, the delivery of justice on cases committed by security forces and state entities has been hard to come. Members of the community cannot easily access justice to all forms of harassment, murder, assault and sexual abuse perpetrated by security operatives in the protected areas