By Munyaradzi Goche
Human rights organization Centre for Research and Development (CRD) has expressed concern over mining safety and has urged government to legalise artisanal diamond mining in awake of four deaths in the Chiyadzwa diamond fields. .
One of the victims was shot by mine security four days after three others had died when an unsecured shaft collapsed.
Illegal diamond prospecting and digging has failed to end despite heav military presence and tight security that has seen over two hundred people dying with thousands more nursing permanent injuries since diamonds were discovered in Marange more than 12 years ago.
Rampant human rights abuses have seen the country being banned from selling the precious stones on the world market until it finally met the Kimberly Process Certification requirements.
CRD director James Mupfumi told the TellZim News this week that they would also want government to develop policies that acknowledge the rights of host communities in mining.
He slammed government for delays in diamond policy reforms.
“CRD is advocating for the regularisation of artisanal mining and development of policies that promote economic rights of host communities.
“The delay by government in implementing policy reforms in diamond mining is deplorable,” Mupfumi said.
He said this after the death of 27-year-old Philemon Manhanga of Chapeyama village under Chief Marange on his way to Mutambara Mission Hospital after he was shot in the back.
Spiritualist Matthew Mundondo bemoaned the continuing deaths of illegal miners saying mine security should arrest guards and have them prosecuted, claiming that their ‘atrocities’ were angering the spirits of the land.
“Guards should stop killing illegal panners, arrest them and hand over them to police. Chiyadzwa land does not need violence but peace and love as preached by the late Chiyadzwa hero Chichaya,” Mundondo said.
Government recently liberalised the gold sector, allowing unlicenced small-scale miners free rein but on condition that they sold their gold to nobody else but State-owned gold dealer Fidelity.
A few weeks ago, three illegal artisanal diamond diggers died when their unsecured mine shaft collapsed.
Gladmore Simango, Washington Simango and Roderick Chidziya all of Chibuwe village under Chief Mutambara died on the spot with one other unnamed miner who had also been trapped in the collapsed two and half metre deep shaft.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson Tavhiringwa Kakohwa confirmed the accident.
Kakohwa said the four were part of a bigger group that sneaked into Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC)’s old washing plant 2 patrol area on August 14.
The mishap occurred around 21:00hrs and they were all dug up by their colleagues.
Kakohwa said the victims were all ferried to Nyanyadzi Hospital where the injured received treatment. The deceased were later taken to Mutare Provincial Hospital for post mortems.
Police were notified of the incident by ZCDC’s Masimba Ngwenya, 46, on August 15.