Thursday, November 30, 2023

State Security agents perpetuating human rights violations in Marange

Branton Matondo

Marange villagers are bemoaning the infestation of corruption, perpetration of intimidation, illicit sexual advances and gross prevalence of bribery by state security agents who man the area against the unlawful handling and leakages of diamonds.
Marange natives went out guns blazing on September 24 as they lamented the disappearance of peace, economic freedom and movement allegedly at the hands of State Security officers that have become vanguards of awful harassment, bribery, corruption and unlawful battery.
Cases of assault and intimidation spanning from the end of August to mid-September this year at Tonhorai village of Marange and Mudzeengwa village have been confirmed.
Speaking at a recently held engagement hosted by Centre for Research Development (CRD) a resident and former councillor in Marange Daniel Nyazika claimed the locals were suffering at the hands of soldiers and other authorised officers that have gone to use illegal miners as objects for use in the orchestration of mineral leakage in the process violating the constitutional right to dignity.
“We are human beings and we do not only survive on diamonds but also rely on farming crops and livestock rearing but all these things are going down the drain because of diamond mining taking place in Marange. At the end of the day we are suffering at the expense of soldiers and the enacted PPAA law. As Chiadzwa dwellers, have no business whatsoever because mining has become the enemy of our progress. The belief that diamond is benefiting Zimbabwe is absent among us Marange people,” lashed Nyazika.
Another resident (who anonymously spoke) lamented the continued harassment alleging Chiadzwa is now a ‘haven of intimidation and momentous bribes’ a situation that has reached unprecedented levels.
He added that high prevalence of foreign illegal miners known in mining circles as Magweja has placed Marange natives under ‘the guillotine’.
“A lot of people are coming from outside our area to mine and they end up wreaking havoc in our society. They pass through seven road blocks freely but us Marange dwellers, are becoming aliens to our own land. We appeal to you leaders to use local police force from Bambazonke because they are familiar with our struggles as we are being harassed and intimidated by the same State Security that is supposed to protect us. A lot of unknown personnel pass through the official entrance and it’s uncertain if our community has any hope.
“We are violated by outsiders who tell us, Chiadzwa dwellers not to pass through tagged points. We have cases of Chiadzwa villagers being told to pay fines and bribes amounting to US$ 20 at Nyanyadzi just to get a pass. We are arrested without committing a crime and there is not even a clear verification of arrests. They (state security) do not even verify identities, they just arrest with the aim of collecting money from us at the end of the day, we have to bear the brunt of selling property, livestock and clothes so that we bribe the security agents whenever we want to move from one point to another. Limitations are affecting us. We are now unable to move freely. Gone are the days when we unveiled documentation, now it’s no longer applicable,” he said.
An investigation on the issue of community insecurities has revealed that communities in protected areas is harbouring illegal miners from outside and sending vulnerable groups like women and children to pan for diamonds on restricted areas.
An investigation carried out by CRD presented in their latest report indicate that 13 blocks and checkpoints have become permeable, a reality that has laid the base for corruption, sexual manipulation and intimidation prevalence.
Other reports indicate that properties meant to be guarded by state security are either being vandalised or stolen from while they are in communities thwarting natives.
Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU) member Cosmas Sunguro confirmed the challenges taking place at Chiadzwa.
“PPAA should benefit both Chiadzwa dwellers and law enforcers because at the moment economic freedoms are being violated. Guarantee of free movement is now thing of the past but remember there are families that need to survive but it’s difficult when a basic human right of movement is being curtailed,” said Sunguro.
Onayi Marange a denizen from the mining community said how life has become expensive through the high levels of bribes that have exercabated since the initial diamond rush in 2007.
“It’s now expensive to live and survive in Chiadzwa. Once you meet state security, they try to find ways to make you pay or bribe them. Identity documents like National ID’s or passes from Chiefs are no longer serving their purpose but they are being by passed. Corruption has infested itself in state security and it’s now troubling our freedom as Zimbabwean citizens. Unlawful charges range from US$ 1, US$ 2 to as high as US$ 20,” said Marange.
Raids by authorised officers at business centres like Tenda, Mashugashuga, Makotamo and Muchena have affected native business operators.
CRD leader James Mupfumi underscored the harsh situation emanating from Marange due to abused governance of PPAA noting that the abuse of power by state security is attracting negative attention on the global arena.
“What is happening in Marange is something that is placing Zimbabwe on the spotlight in a bad manner. They should work in recognition of peoples’ challenges rather viewing natives as subjects. It’s uncalled for Villagers are trying to make ends meet to then use his or her meagre resources for the sourcing off assistance and paying bribes all because of tasked law enforcement officers who abuse their power knowingly. This information which is crucial is being ignored by government but you will be surprised how it’s gaining limelight on the international arena. There is lack of relationship between State and human rights and that’s a disadvantage,” said Mupfumi.
He added that state security is doing the opposite of fair enforcement of PPAA law.
“There is need to remove the people and extract the mineral so that government reveals the rotten state security system in Marange because it’s a challenge to manage close to 26 000 people and it’s not healthy that people live in a flee, cat and mouse environment. State security is orchestrating leakages of diamonds because when they are practicing their bestowed power, they are fortune hunting rather than serving the common cause,” he added.
Home Affairs top brass Prisca Madziviridze enlightened on the statutes of PPAA citing that the act is among the 40 areas that are administered by the Ministry of Home Affairs in line with section 86 of the constitution.
CRD inquiry on the issue brought about set recommendations that were also detailed during the assemblage at Utopia Lodge.
“Binding CDA/CBA with community security operational model recognizes communities in protected areas as strategic partners not subjects in security diamond fields. Review of emergence powers in Marange /review of PPAA powers in view of government failure to relocate people from diamond mining areas. Application of PPAA populous and open communities like Marange needs review. The constitutional rights of those communities to economic development and secured livelihoods to be upheld,” read the recommendation.
CRD has called for government to relocate families first to curb the challenge.
Recently published 2022 household and population census figures reveal that 26 461 people occupy Marange.
Similar challenges of insanity brewed by frantic mineral rush have been a prominent occurrence dating back to Epworth gold rush, the recent Penhalonga and Shurugwi gold rush frenzy in the Midlands.

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