Zimbabwe Environmental Law Agency (ZELA) has partnered with Business and Human Rights Resource Centre an international company to advocate and assist communities and provide them an opportunity to get their responses from mining companies in their communities and create a platform for dialogue between communities and the mining companies.
Business and Human Rights Resource Centre is an International Non Governmental Organisation(NGO) with 14 Regional Researchers who are based in Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Kenya, Japan, Myanmar, Mexico, Senegal, South Africa, UK, Ukraine and USA.
The company promotes transparency as they call on companies to respond to allegations of human rights abuses.
Speaking at the sidelines of a workshop in Mutare recently, Karen Hudlet Vazques a researcher and representative with Business and Human Rights Resource Centre Mexico said their role is to exhibit the negative and positive impacts of companies on human rights issues.
“We work with about 6500 companies and observe labour issues, human as well as environmental rights issues and whether these companies follow their obligations according to the United Nations,”said Vazques..
“We have partnered with Zimbabwe Environmental law agency (ZELA) on mining industry here in Zimbabwe. Communities are not against mining but they want responsible mining that keeps them and their environment safe and mining companies respecting their human rights” added Vazques.
She further added that all communities in Zimbabwe want is compensation they were promised by mining companies and one of the major issues that came up was freedom to use their land.
“We will try to talk to Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company and try to engage them and come to an understanding.
If they are not forthcoming we will approach the consumer of the diamonds. We raise awareness with investors as well so they pressure them to respect human rights,” she said adding that their international awareness policy include pressuring companies to comply and they have had 85 percent success rate from previous engagements.
Vazques cited that when it comes to Chiadzwa community as well as other mining communities in Zimbabwe she noted how much organised and informed they were.
“It is a pleasure to know that villagers know their rights very well and have documented cases. They are also very aware of actions they should take,” she said.
Save Odzi community Network Trust (SOCNET) raised serious concerns over the compensation issue. A spokesperson for the Trust Malvern Mudiwa said” We lost livestock due to drinking water contaminated by chemicals dumped into Save and Odzi rivers by mining companies”. “Veterinary services were not helpful after taking samples from the dead livestock and not releasing the results,’ added Mudiwa.
Priority case presented by all Community Trust’s was for ZCDC to halt all its mining activities until they have an Environmental impact assessment (EIA) document which the company should be able to implementation and comply with.
Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) issues included that the community has been exposed to dust pollution on a daily basis and is demanding for a tarred road in the village to avoid the rise of Tuberculosis cases.
Arda Transau Trust (ARDT) issue was that it is more worried of their compensation which they were told they will get when a total number of 4500 families has been relocated.
Nyaradzo Mutonhori ZELA’s Legal Researcher Consultant cited that it is a violation of rights that relocated families should wait for a total of 3500 families to get compensation.
“It is a violation of rights it does not make sense to say that they are waiting for 3000 families for those relocated in 2011,”said Mutonhori.♦t