Killings continue in Chiadzwa

centre_for_research_copyArmy Commander Valerio Sibanda visits Chiadzwa as extrajudicial killings continue
In a show of the continued militarization of Chiadzwa Diamond Fields, the Commander of the Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant General Philip Valerio Sibanda visited the diamond fields in the company of senior military personnel on

Sibandas visit was for a few hours but the operation has continued even after his visit. He is reported to have proceeded to the plant where the Zimbabwe Mining Development Company is conducting mining activities. Meanwhile the military imposed an illegal curfew around Chiadzwa during the operation. For several days Chiadzwa residents could not enter or leave their area due to the curfew. Several people failed to travel to Mutare to seek medical attention and other essential services due to the illegal curfew. One of the men accompanying Valerio Sibanda, Brigadier General Chimonyo, was described as someone extremely cruel. Meanwhile the soldiers captured and murdered Moreblessing Tirivangani of Harare on Sunday 6 September. Moreblessing was captured on Saturday and was beaten for the whole night at a military base in Chiadzwa and subsequently died on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Police who brought Moreblessings body to Mutare General Hospital Mortuary were ordered to report that Moreblessing was trying to disarm a soldier. This is highly untrue given that soldiers always move around in pairs or more. Also given the general fear among the people with regard to soldiers, it is very unthinkable that a civilian can try to disarm a soldier in a highly militarized zone like Chiadzwa. Moreblessing had a plastic covering his nose, suggesting that he may have been tortured before his death. He also had stripes and bruises on his ribs, suggesting persistent beatings.

Sibandas visit highlights two major issues of great concern: First the military bosses have instructed soldiers to kill anyone found wondering or panning in the diamond fields. The complete disregard of the laws of Zimbabwe during a visit by a very high ranking military official reveals that the soldiers were indeed under instruction to kill. It can therefore be concluded that soldiers continue to kill people in Chiadzwa despite the government denials. Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zvizvai (MDC) has fiercely contested that no single person was ever killed by the soldiers in Chiadzwa. However, soldiers have quietly killed hundreds of civilians in Chiadzwa, in complete violation of the laws of Zimbabwe. It must also be highlighted that the Inclusive Government has betrayed the people of Zimbabwe in as far as military abuses are concerned. Both ZANU PF and the two MDC formations have conspired to suppress information coming from Chiadzwa, thereby allowing the human rights abuses to continue unabated.

Further, the CRD is grossly concerned with the lack of transparency and accountability with regard to the mining and trading of Chiadzwa diamonds. Close sources within the plant reveal that top government and military bosses are in the forefront of looting diamonds from the plant. The Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zvizvai has also been reported to be using his strategic position in government to loot diamonds. Given the rampant looting of Chiadzwa diamonds by government and military bosses and widespread panning activities being conducted by soldiers and civilians one wonders why some people are still being killed for allegedly trespassing through the diamond fields.

It is against this background that the CRD is of the opinion that Zimbabwe needs to be given enough time to reflect and come up with proper mechanisms to conduct mining in a professional, transparent and accountable manner. It is for the overall good of all Zimbabweans that diamond mining activities be suspended until such a time that the country complies with the Kimberly Processes Certification Scheme.

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