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More Charges of Rights Violations in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Field

With police backup, Mbada Diamonds started relocating Chiadzwa residents three weeks ago, moving 44 families from the diamond zone to Arda Transau Farm in Odzi, about 60 kilometers away

Fresh allegations of human rights abuses have surfaced from the Marange diamond field of eastern Zimbabwe with activists accusing Mbada Diamonds, a partner with the Harare government of setting guard dogs on residents to pressure them to relocate.

Local sources said guard dogs have attacked four residents of the Chiadzwa area of the Marange diamond zone over the past two weeks.

Chiadzwa Community Development Trust Chairman Malvern Mudiwa, currently facing charges of inciting villagers in Marange to resist relocation, said Mbada is deliberately putting residents in a desperate situation so they will agree to relocation.

“There are so many abuses from the security guards, which are being led by a white man,” Mudiwa said. “They are letting their dogs to people and livestock.”

Mudiwa said the attacks began when Mbada created a so-called fireguard around a new claim. Mudiwa said Mbada security guards “are patrolling that area quite frequently with their vicious dogs” even though families are still living within the demarcated claim.

“The fireguard is already in the people’s areas,” Mudiwa said. “You just have to cross it because you can’t avoid it. It’s where you’re staying.” The people who were attacked had been searching for their livestock near the boundary of Mbada’s claim.

With police backup, Mbada started relocating residents three weeks ago, moving 44 families from the diamond zone to Arda Transau Farm in Odzi, about 60 kilometers away. Another company operating in the Marange zone, Anjin, has relocated 178 families since 2010 and forcibly removed another 24 last weekend, activist Mudiwa said.

Manicaland spokesman Pishai Muchauraya of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai said he saw armed police forcing villagers into Chinese lorries over the weekend. Anjin is operated by Chinese investors.

VOA was unable to reach Mbada or Anjin officials for comment.

The Web site of the New Reclamation Group, whose Grandwell Holdings subsidiary owns 50 percent of Mbada, states that relocations have begun but does not provide any further details. The New Reclamation site says that Mbada has launched “a far reaching corporate responsibility program,” including the distribution of food aid.

But Chiadzwa residents are demanding more substantial and longer-lasting forms of compensation for their losses, like shares in the company or permanent jobs.

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Head Researcher Shamiso Mtisi says families moved out of Chiadzwa – often forcibly by the military – are only receiving a thousand dollars compensation for the seizure of their homes and farming plots.

“There is lack of transparency in the manner of calculating the compensation,” Mtisi said. “If the process were well managed, these communities would be signing some sort of contract with the mining companies in terms of services and provisions.”

But most families are not even being given title deeds to their new homes.

“There are lots of community voices in Chiadzwa who are yearning for consultation, but government is spurning those calls. How can you ignore your people who are calling for compensation, yet you are saying you want to serve the people?” Mtisi said.

“The whole program will lead to the relocation of about 4,000 families, which is a huge amount for such a small piece of land,” Mtisi said. He added that each plot allotted is particularly small for families accustomed to farming and raising livestock.

Activist Mudiwa said that people in Chiadzwa are furious about relocation methods.

“People want to be treated like human beings,” he said.

“We as community have nothing against being relocated," Mudiwa continued. "All that we want is compensation. We want to translate that compensation into buying shares as a community so that we also benefit. That is the indigenization that the government is preaching every day. So it has to start with us.”