No end to killings in Chiadzwa

No end to killings in Chiadzwa

Center for Research and Development (CRD)

September 20, 2009

The cold blooded murder of Zimbabweans by the state security agents in Chiadzwa continued with the shooting of yet another panner by a soldier with the Zimbabwe National Army on Thursday 17/9/09. Alfonzo Mupamhadzi (19) from Chimombe village under Chief Nyashanu was shot and killed at a business center called Mashukashuka in the company of two friends. It is strongly believed the three were working in a syndicate with a soldier who later accused Alfonzo of hiding a piece of diamond which they had discovered. The soldier followed the group to the business centre where hundreds of buyers descend daily to buy diamonds and pulled the trigger on Alfonzo. The body of Alfonzo was carried to Mutare general Hospital Mortuary by two Policemen and a Soldier. His next of kin have not been informed.

Meanwhile the CRD can reveal that the body of Moreblesing Tirivangani, murdered by the soldiers on 6/9/09 in Chiadzwa is lying unclaimed at Mutare general Hospital Mortuary. There is no indication of any Government efforts to inform his next of kin. As was the case with other panners who have fallen victim to the soldiers in Chiadzwa, no effort is taken by the government to inform the relatives of the deceased. Consequently the government declares that the bodies have not been claimed and the relatives are unknown, paving way for a pauper's burial. About 78 panners' bodies were buried in an mass grave at Dangamvura cemetery on the 18th of December 2008

It is more than one year after the signing of the Inter-party Political Agreement (IPA) which gave birth to the Inclusive Government in February this year. It is estimated that more than a thousand civilians have been murdered by the Zimbabwe National Army in Chiadzwa since the signing of the IPA, less than a tenth of them after the formation of the Inclusive Government in February 2009. Investigating the atrocities has been a nightmare since the entire Marange area has been militarized, thereby cutting off the area from the public domain. An illegal curfew has been imposed on Chiadzwa and the surrounding area by the ZNA. Further, the Zimbabwe Republic Police have resorted to falsify information when they bring victims' bodies to hospital mortuaries. A sizeable number of deaths go unreported due to lack of access to the diamond fields.

Even more worrying is the fact that there is no Institutional Reform taking place under the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe. Soldiers continue to operate above the law with much impunity. There is a high likelihood that soldiers shall again be called to unleash political violence on the masses in the near future. Parliament has not grilled the Minister of Defense to account for the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in Chiadzwa at his instigation. In Mutare the CRD noted an incident in which soldiers assaulted a man for telling a friend that media reform was progressing slowly. The reform of state institutions, rather than 4 X 4 cars for legislators and bickering over the removal of sanctions, ought to have been top on the priorities of the Inclusive Government. Zimbabwe cannot afford to continue losing precious lives to rogue and greedy soldiers whose vocation appear to start and end at abusing and killing civilians.

The Kimberly Processes Certification Scheme team which visited Zimbabwe on a fact finding mission in July recommended an immediate withdrawal of the army from Chiadzwa. However, due to rampant corruption by senior government officials hell bent on looting Chiadzwa diamonds and the apparent takeover of the country by service chiefs, Chiadzwa remains under the tight control of the army. Had proper mining been taking place in Chiadzwa and if there was a political will to develop Zimbabwe, Chiadzwa diamonds provides an answer to most of Zimbabwe's economic woes.

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