Human rights abuses in Marange and plans by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) to rope in artisanal miners risk putting the country on the agenda of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), experts and Parliament have warned.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI/OBEY MANAYITI
The KPCS plenary is set for Brussels in Belgium from November 12-18 and comes after ZCDC boss Morris Mpofu on Wednesday revealed plans to ring-fence its alluvial fields to allow locals, to embark on organised artisanal mining.
But the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Mines said the move was a publicity stunt by ZCDC after Parliament recommended the disbandment of the company.
“That is just a public relations stunt. The question that must be asked is whether that is part of the diamond policy? It has to be part of the diamond policy that will then come to us (parliamentary committee),” he said.
Mliswa’s committee recently threatened to charge Mines minister Winstone Chitando and permanent secretary Onesmo Mazai Moyo with contempt of Parliament if they failed to dissolve ZCDC as recommended by Parliament on the premise that they were illegally constituted, and that they had illegally taken over diamond mines in Chiadzwa.
“They want to block the return of the former diamond mining companies by claiming to embrace villagers, which is a recipe of disaster as this will attract the attention of KPC,” said a mining expert who requested anonymity.
“Villagers have not made it a secret that the former companies were much better in terms of developing the area.”
Under terms of the KP, participants are required to meet minimum requirements, come up with import and export controls, as well as commit to transparency.
Centre for Natural Resources Governance director Farai Maguwu wrote to KP chair Hilde Hardeman recently, alleging human rights abuses in Marange.
“While the KP has moved on with regards to Zimbabwe, the reality of the matter is diamond mining in eastern Zimbabwe is accompanied with gross human rights abuses in the form of both direct and structural violence,” Maguwu, in the letter said.
In her response, Hardeman said they were closely following developments.
“I understand that consultations are currently ongoing between the affected diamond communities, civic society groups , Zimbabwe’s Mines minister and ZCDC to further clarify the facts on the ground,” she said
Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi urged Manicaland provincial affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba to take action against human rights abuses in Marange to avoid the country becoming an agenda at the KP.