THE National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) is investigating conflicts pitting villagers against ethanol-producing giant, Green Fuel in Chisumbanje and Chiadzwa diamond miners respectively, The Manica Post can reveal.
NPRC spokesperson, Commissioner Obert Gutu confirmed the two-week probe which started in Chipinge South.
The Manica Post can also reveal that 15 NPRC officers were on the ground gathering information from all the concerned parties and would table their findings to the commission for further management.
The probe team has so far met with the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Nokuthula Matsikenyere and Provincial Development Coordinator Mr Edgars Seenza, among other stakeholders.
Villagers in these two communities have been up in arms with Green Fuel and diamond-mining companies in Chiadzwa for years, accusing them of displacing them from their ancestral land as well as not benefiting from resources in these areas.
When the Government moved in to restore sanity at Chiadzwa diamond fields following Operation Hakudzokwi in 2008, seven companies — Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Gyne Nyame Resources, Jinan Mining, Kusena Diamonds and Mbada Diamonds — were licensed to mine, but did not last.
Before being kicked out, the firm had pledged to inject money into the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust to spearhead the economic empowerment of the two communities through proceeds from diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa.
During the launch of the Trust in 2011, the late former President Mugabe received a US$1.5 million dummy cheque from the diamond miners.
The seven companies pledged to contribute US$50 million into the Trust coffers, but only US$400 000 was disbursed before the miners reneged on their promise.
This did not go down well with the locals who felt short-changed and filed a number of petitions to the Government to intervene.
The coming on board of Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) saw the company redesigning its community social responsibility projects from consumptive to entrepreneurship in a bid to capacitate communities, but the locals continue complaining that the company was paying lip-service in addressing issues on key infrastructure like schools, health facilities and other social amenities.
ZCDC recently commissioned a sewing factory at Chiadzwa to enable the community to sustain its livelihoods beyond the lifespan of the diamond mine.
ZCDC acquired tractors for tillage and has been assisting farmers with inputs.
It also rehabilitated dip tanks that had been affected by mining operations under the livestock revitalisation programme.
The company rehabilitated some of the roads in the area.
In Chisumbanje, fuel concern, Green Fuel — which is in partnership with Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA) — is accused of encroaching into villagers’ land in Chipinge South resulting in legal battles.
Green Fuels has embarked on a number of CSRs programmes in Chipinge South as a way of ploughing back into the communities around them, community to sustain its livelihoods beyond the lifespan of the diamond mine.
ZCDC also acquired tractors for tillage and has been assisting farmers with input handouts. It also rehabilitated dip tanks that had been affected by mining operations under the livestock revitalisation programme.
The company rehabilitated some of the roads in the area.
In Chisumbanje, fuel concern, Green Fuel – which is in partnership with Agriculture Rural Development Authority (ARDA)– is accused of encroaching into villagers’ land in Chipinge South resulting in legal battles.
Green Fuels have also embarked on a number of CSRs programmes in Chipinge South as a way of ploughing back into the communities around them, but some feel much more needs to be done to improve their economic and social standings.
Villagers also implored Government to intervene on the land dispute despite the land being State land.
However, in a recent interview, Chipinge District Development Coordinator, Mr William Mashava said the expansion of Green Fuel Ethanol Project is a well-known and pre-planned initiative.
“I am not really sure what the villagers who are bitter about this development’s motive is because this was known way back that the project has to cover 45 000 hectares of land and the expansion has been gradual.
“That someone was notified of the developments five years ago and decided to resist should not give Government and the investors unnecessary headache. Both Government through ARDA and the investor Green Fuel have been clear from the onset and the people involved actually know where the pegs were placed.
“It is disheartening to note that the project itself invests in Community Social Responsibility initiatives that include provision of irrigable land to the displaced villagers, but somehow some elements within the society, purportedly more enlightened than all of us, still find a reason to influence retrogressive and undue resistance,” said Mr Mashava.
However, Professor Lovemore Madhuku,who is representing the villagers insisted that his intentions are meant to fight social injustice.
“What those people (Green Fuel) are doing is wrong and I am involved in these issue for social justice. It has nothing to do with our political differences. We surely cannot have development that impoverishes people.
“Even if they were to bring billions and billions of United States of America dollars that does not warrant that colonial approach to development. There has to be co-existence between the investors and the people around that area. There were no houses that were destroyed, but a few crops that were ploughed under. They only stopped after we had intervened,” said Prof Madhuku in a recent interview.
As provided for under Sections 251 to 253 of the Constitution, NPRC is mandated to ensure post-conflict justice, healing, and reconciliation, to develop programmes to promote national healing, unity, and peaceful conflict resolution, hence its coming to Manicaland to try and find a lasting solution to the conflicts in Chiadzwa and Chisumbanje.
In a telephone interview early this week, Commissioner Gutu said they received a number of complaints of frost relationships between the villagers around Chiadzwa and Chisumbanje communities and Green Fuel and ZCDC, hence the decision to come on the ground to engage all stakeholders.
“Our mandate is clearly spelt out in the Constitution. After receiving a number of complaints, we are here to investigate the causes of these conflicts and table our findings and recommendations. We have started with Chisumbanje where villagers are clashing with Green Fuel over the company’s alleged expansion into their ancestral land.
“We will try to engage all relevant stakeholders for us to find out the source of the conflict. We have also gathered that villagers are complaining that they are not getting much benefit from the resources in their area. We will come up with a detailed report after our investigations,” said Commissioner Gutu.
On the Chiadzwa issue, Commissioner Gutu said: “Villagers are complaining that they are not benefitting much from the diamonds being mined there. They say they want to see more economic empowerment programmes. Some of them are complaining that they have no access to modern schools and health facilities. They also say nothing much is being channelled into the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust as some villagers do not have reliable sources of clean water.
“We want these issues to be resolved in the most amicable way that will see everyone smiling at the end of the day.”
Commissioner Gutu said their work was also affected by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
“We should have come down there some time back, but because of the Covid-19 lockdown measures it was impossible to travel. Now that working hours have been extended and intercity travelling is now allowed, we hope to visit most of the areas that have conflicts across the country and try to have them resolved in the shortest possible time.
“We will strive to investigate all cases brought to our attention. We will also make public our findings,” said Commissioner Gutu, who is also NPRC’s chairperson for its complaints handling, investigations and legal services thematic committee.