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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Interview with Farai Maguwu, Human Rights Defender
    Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
    March 29, 2011

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    Respected human rights defender Farai Maguwu is the director of the Centre for Research and Development based in Mutare. The CRD works in the area of natural resource extraction and its effects on local communities. Last year Mr. Maguwu was detained for allegedly publishing falsehoods prejudicial to the State in connection with the Marange Diamond fields. These were later dismissed. He continues in his work in bringing attention to the human rights issues surrounding natural resource extraction in Zimbabwe.

    What is the Centre for Research and Development currently working on?
    We have two programmes that we are working on. One is research and advocacy on natural resource extraction with a particular focus on diamonds. We are no expanding this mandate to include other natural resources in the country by way of building a strong network of NGOs that can speak about natural resource extraction in different parts of Zimbabwe. Our other area of focus is on peace building where we use the rights based approach to peace, engaging rural communities in human rights education and peace education as well as encouraging them to monitor the extraction of natural resources in their area. We view the extraction of resources as a very serious area of conflict in Zimbabwe.

    In your opinion, and with regard to your research, are the Marange diamonds benefiting the people of Marange?
    If anything it has actually victimised the people of Marange. First of all there were the human rights issues where state security agents have subjected a lot of people to gross human rights abuses. These abuses are continuing. The worst scenario that we have witnessed is the forced relocation of people from their traditional homes to an area where they weren't given even a chance to plant. Children are not going to school. There is no source of livelihood, they've just been dumped in the bush. Listen

    Going back to the events of last year, have your arrest and arbitrary detention changed you or the way you work in anyway?
    Yes to some extent. It changed me in that when you get subjected to such harsh conditions afterwards you evaluate what you have been doing and there is always the pressure to stop doing it and do things that ensure your safety and security. There is also the choice to continue with your work and do even more which is what happened in my case. I realised how sensitive an issue natural resources are in this country. I also went further to ask why is it that natural resources are so sensitive. I realised that there are people who are benefiting from these natural resources and they don't want anyone to shed light on what they are doing. This is why we are building a network of NGOs so that more Zimbabweans will start speaking about the corrupt deals that are being entered into.

    What do you foresee in the future for Marange and by extension Zimbabwe's natural resources and their extraction?
    I think Marange diamonds are the tip of the iceberg. It's revealing the secretive nature of the extractive sector in Zimbabwe whereby you have the political elites getting into some dirty partnerships with some foreign business people to milk these resources under the guise of black empowerment. There is really no transparency, no accountability and no political will to ensure that these resources have downstream effects on the ordinary Zimbabwean. It's not just about diamonds. There are many funny companies, which just arrive in these rural areas and start mining. There is no consultation with the local leadership, there is no participation of the local population, and there is no tangible benefit to the local community. It's something that our government has allowed and they have participated in this corruption. We can't expect Zimbabweans to benefit from these natural resources. They have been corruptly acquired by individuals and groups and they are not willing to let go, and therefore there is a need to see this natural resource extraction as a serious human rights issue which is contributing to further impoverishment of rural communities. Listen

    What is the current rights situation at Chiadzwa?
    Last year we reported that the situation has slightly improved in that we were receiving fewer reports of human rights abuses. But we should say also that as long as the military, the police and CIO are based in Marange the issue of human rights abuses will always continue. We still receive reports of people being bitten by dogs, being attacked by the military and by the police. It remains very worrisome to us. This forced relocation is a serious human rights issue, which needs international attention. Listen

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