CHIADZWA villagers from Tinoengana are at loggerheads with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company following a recent notice to evict 26 villagers arbitrary without any communication of the mandated nominal disturbance allowances.
This was revealed yesterday (Thursday, December 1, 2016) during a press conference organised by the Mutare civil society coalition in Mutare.
Tinoengana villagers in the mining area of Chiadzwa on Monday, 30 November 2016 woke up to news that 26 families were to be relocated to an unknown location to pave way for mining operations by ZCDC, the new Government diamond consortium that took over all diamond claims in Chiadzwa in January.
The villagers said the acting Mutare District Administrator, Mr Simon Sigauke accompanied by heavily armed police officers convened a meeting with the villagers to notify them of an eviction scheduled for tomorrow (December 3, 2016).
One of the villagers said they were not resisting operations but were against the arbitrary evictions as was the case with the previous mining companies. He said it was disheartening that ZCDC has continued to expand operations into Tinoengana village without consulting villagers or engaging them in any way.
“We are not resisting relocation but lessons from previous evictions have made us realise the need to have facts before we move.” said Clive Chiwadzwa, one of the villagers facing eviction.
“We asked the DA to show us the houses we will be relocated to but we were told there was no need for that,” he said.
Chiwadzwa said all the villagers were concerned more about the nominal disturbance allowance and compensation arrangement whilst some who are working at the new mining consortium wondered where they will live once they were relocated. Chiwadzwa said sadly during the meeting they never got any clear answers to those pertinent concerns.
Evictions and relocations from Chiadzwa to ARDA Transau near Kondozi just outside Mutare started in 2010.
According to research by the Mutare civil society coalition over 1300 families (over 7000 people) have been evicted up-to-date.
However, till present day some of those relocated to ARDA are still to be given houses that they were promised as well as compensation for the disruptions of their way of life.
One of the relocated villagers living in ARDA Transau and a member of the ARDA Transau Development Trust, Junior Mufute said to date at least 53 families were living in ARDA Transau in shared houses contrary to what was promised.
”We were relocated in 2010 to ARDA Transau but until now we have not received the houses we were promised. Our worry now is where will they accommodate the 26 families they want to relocate when we are already crowded and still to receive our promised houses since 2010,” said Mufute
Villagers said they thought ZCDC was going to be their saviour after taking over but it turns out they will be operating in the same vindictive way as their predecessors.
During a press conference the coalition called on ZCDC to adhere to the provisions of the new Constitution on forced evictions which they said was a gross human right violation.
The coalition which includes Marange Development Trust(MDT),Platform for Youth Development(PYD),Centre for Research Development(CRD),Natural Resource Dialogue of Zimbabwe(NAREDZ),Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human rights(ZLHR),Zimbabwe human rights Association(ZIMRIGHTS),Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) as well as the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association(ZELA) demanded for the immediate reversal of orders to evict the identified 26 families and others yet to be identified until a well thought out relocation and compensation plan was agreed on in consultation with the communities.
Section 74 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe protects citizens against arbitrary evictions. The section states that no person may be evicted from their home or have their homes demolished without an order of the court made, after considering all the relevant circumstances.
The coalition in a press release said the Government should uphold constitutional values.
“We also demand cessation of threats and intimidation of villagers by the District Administrator and state security operatives meant to coerce villagers in Tinoengana to agree to forced relocations. ZCDC should stop mining operations in Tinoengana and surrounding villages until they conduct an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) in consultation with the communities. “They should also carry out an independent and transparent evaluation of properties and assets of villagers in the mining communities, should relocation be one of the agreed options, as well as independent assessment of destination amenities consistent with livelihoods and welfare upliftment of the displaced,” read the press release.
An urgent application to the High Court on the matter was also made yesterday by the Marange Development Trust through its lawyers from Maunga Maanda and Associates.
Efforts to get a comment from the acting DA were fruitless by time of going to press yesterday.