Maguwu claims spike in human rights abuses

THE Centre for Natural Resource and Governance (CNRG) has claimed massive harassment of its staff by police and intelligence officials, but vowed to continue exposing gross human rights abuses of people living in the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

BY KENNETH NYANGANI

In a brief address during the fourth edition of Operation Hakudzokwi commemorations held at Betera Primary School in Marange, CNRG director Farai Maguwu blasted police for attempting to block villagers from attending the event.

He also claimed he had to sneak in and address the gathering after law enforcement agents had denied him entry to the venue.

In his short speech, Maguwu vowed his organisation would take the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company head-on over lack of development in the area.

“I think you are aware that Marange is the richest area in Zimbabwe, but we have some of the poorest people in the country. There is no development in this community,” he said

“A big percentage should be used to develop the community, like paying school fees, constructing roads. Last year, we wrote a petition to Parliament over lack of development, but nothing has improved.”

Maguwu added: “Every time we want to organise such an event (Operation Hakudzokwi), we receive death threats or we are arrested by the police. Even now I might sleep in police cells because they said I should not be allowed to deliver the speech.”

He said the threats would not deter the organisation from speaking on behalf of the people.

Operation Hakudzokwi was violent crackdown launched in 2008 by security forces to clear the Chiadzwa diamond fields of illegal panners.

Human rights groups claimed that over 200 people were shot dead by police and soldiers manning the diamond fields, while thousands were reportedly maimed and tortured.