Military, police terrorise villagers in Marange
On Wednesday 31 July 2019, soldiers and riot police details descended on villagers’ homes in a joint operation to sniff out artisanal miners in the diamond rich area of Marange. The affected villages are Chishingwi, Muchena, Mujima and Betera.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance received distress calls from affected villagers who narrated how the menacing soldiers and police details ransacked their homes and business premises, demanding they should produce identity cards. Anyone found either without, or with identity cards not bearing the national registry district code, 75 was arrested and taken to Bravo 2 police base.
At Muchena business centre in Chishingwi village, the state security agents reportedly captured one Kurauone Secondary School student, one Obvious Munjoma after he failed to produce an identity card.
According to villagers, the soldiers and riot police officers also took an ailing Lazarus Muterembwe after they kicked open the door to gain entry into the room where he was sleeping.
“The uniformed soldiers and support unit officers came in a police vehicle. Initially, they were four but when they left this (Muchena business centre) place, they were around 10,” said a villager who witnessed the incident.
At Muchena village alone, about 10 people were rounded up before the state security agents moved to Betera village for the same operation.
The petrified villagers said almost every week, soldiers and police office officers terrorise shop owners, artisanal diamond miners and women who sell food by the shops
“They demand bribes ranging from RTGS$20 to RTGS$60 and those who fail to pay the bribe are arrested and detained at the Diamond Base.”
The swoops happen almost on a regular basis and at times, according to villagers, the raids are done in the early hours before people wake up.
Those found wearing soiled clothes are automatically assumed to be diamond panners and are arrested and women are harassed and indecently assaulted.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance calls on the government of Zimbabwe to remove the military in Marange and also the placement of the whole community under the Protected Places and Areas Act which justifies the militarization and securitization of Marange. Such placement infringes on the people’s freedom of movement, association and assembly. We reiterate that Marange is an imprisoned community. Minerals found in the communities must never be the source of misery for the community members. Instead, the minerals should be used to spur development and improve the lives of locals since they are their natural wealth provided by Mother Nature.
CNRG also calls upon the government of Zimbabwe which is a member of the Kimberley Process Working Group on Alluvial and Artisanal Diamond Production (WGAADP) to work towards earnestly regularising artisanal mining in order improve security of artisanal miners, curb leakages and control diamond production.