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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
with Farai Maguwu, Human Rights Defender
March 29, 2011
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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