Zimbabwe: Villagers in court bid against eviction

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by Tendai Maronga

CHIADZWA - The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust has appealed to the High Court to bar the government from forcibly removing them from the controversial diamond field to pave way for commercial mining of the deposits.

The Trust representing more than 1 000 families living at the diamond field said in an urgent application filed with the High Court earlier this week that the court must order the government to first pay compensation to the villagers before it can relocate them.

"This is an urgent chamber application for the interdict stopping the respondents from evicting and relocating any individuals from the Chiadzwa communal area until compensation payable to the affected individuals has been agreed and paid," Trust lawyer George Gapu said in papers submitted to court this week.

The villagers also argue the whole relocation process is not being done in a transparent manner and that the companies granted licences to mine the diamonds at the controversial Chiadzwa or Marange diamond field have not conducted an environmental impact assessment.

Two private firms, Mbada Mining Private Limited and Canadile Miners Private Limited, were controversially awarded licenses to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa in collaboration with the government's Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

The court application names Mbada and Canadile as first and second respondents respectively. Other respondents are the ZMDC, Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Mines and Mining Development and Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development.

The government has said it wants to relocate up to 1 800 families from Chiadzwa to pave way for commercial mining operations as part of measures Harare was ordered to implement by the Kimberley Process, the world diamond industry watchdog. - ZimOnline