This will be the Premier’s first visit to the area, after he has been repeatedly barred from there. Most recently last July, he was stopped from touring the area, with government officials insisting he did not have clearance from the ZANU PF controlled Mines Ministry.
But he is now set to be shown around the area on Thursday and Friday. According to the NewsDay newspaper, the Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Prince Mupazviriho, confirmed the tour on Sunday.
At the time of Tsvangirai’s aborted visit last year Zimbabwe was still suspended from international trade, over human rights and smuggling concerns. The country has since been granted leave to start selling its diamonds, after the international trade watchdog the Kimberley Process (KP) ended its two year deadlock on what to do about the situation.
But the KP has faced intense criticism for allowing sales to resume, because of ongoing concerns about the situation in Chiadzwa. Many have slammed the KP for appearing to bow to pressure from the Zimbabwe’s Mines Ministry, whose Minister Obert Mpofu repeatedly threatened to sell Zim diamonds without approval.
For human rights campaigners however the concern has been ongoing reports of rights abuses. There is also speculation that the diamond profits, which in the past have never been accounted for, could be used by ZANU PF to fund a campaign of violence against the opposition ahead of fresh elections.
Mutare based human rights defender, Farai Maguwu, told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the Prime Minister must use his tour this week to investigate what is happening.
“The PM must talk to everyone, and first he must speak to civil society here in Mutare. He must also talk to workers about their rights which are being infringed, and about the beatings they face,” Maguwu explained.
He added that Tsvangirai “must then look into the security situation at the diamond fields,” explaining that there are ongoing reports “of villagers being assaulted by police and security.”
Political analyst Clifford Mashiri meanwhile explained that the fact that the Prime Minister is only now being allowed to visit the area, is a clear sign of how Zimbabwe has been demarcated along political lines.
“Clearly, Chiadzwa has been demarcated a ZANU PF area. I can imagine now that all they want is for Tsvangirai to call for the measures affecting the diamonds sales to be lifted,” Mashiri said. – SW Radio AfricaPost published in: News