Human Rights

Giant steelmaker, DISCO neglecting villagers facing eviction

Tonderai saharo

Villagers who face eviction to pave way for a of steel processing plant in Manhizhe communal area are piling pressure on the company to honour its compensation pledge before they move.

Center for Research and Development (CRD) in a statement said villagers at Inhoek farm who are set to be displaced paving  way for Dinson Iron and Steel Company operations, last week blocked roads denying the company’s trucks passage while demanding an audience with mine management.

CRD said the villagers are being subjected to degrading treatment by the company which include arbitrary loss of land leading to acute food shortages and failure by the affected families to meet their basic needs.

Drama at DISCO plant in Manhize as villagers fight for fair treatment.

“Dinson has been evasive on its commitment to meet monthly US$500 food basket allowances backdated to 2021 for affected families by their mining operations until they are relocated to a new areas.

“In order to evade accountability, Dinson has created unbearable conditions for these families to force them to move to a new area without compensation,” reads part of the statement.

 To add salt to injury the villagers are now being subjected to noise and air pollution after the company opened access roads within yards of their village homesteads for  dump trucks ferrying iron ore from the extraction site to their processing plant.

 “The movement of these trucks from 6am to 11pm daily is exposing people to noise pollution and dust clouds enveloping the entire village and making it uninhabitable.

“Using a similar strategy, Dinson uprooted families from Inhoek and Trydo farms to new areas without compensation, secure livelihoods and  constructed houses that do not meet United Nations basic guidelines and principles on displacement such as adequacy, accessibility, habitability, cultural adequacy, security of tenure and access to essential services such as education and health,” reads the statement .

In addition CRD  said its visit to  rusununguko and Singleton communities that were displaced from Manhize by Dinson in 2022 revealed deteriorating living conditions.

It said villagers are now demanding signed MoUs with the company.

“Locals are demanding memorandum of agreements with Dinson on compensation funds, results for evaluations undertaken by the Ministry of lands on their properties.

 “Dinson is constructing one size fits all for all houses for affected families without their consent.

“They are also demanding the company to meet food allowances until families have been relocated and coming with dust suppression measures so that community members are not exposed to respiratory diseases from dust pollution among other issues,” reads the statement.

After a lengthy demonstration the villagers briefly held a discussion with the mine officials but they vowed to continue barricading the roads until their demands are met.

 Dinson is a unit of China’s biggest stainless steel producer Tsingshan Holdings Groups Limited.

In 2023 the government allegedly awarded Dinson an iron ore mining lease with an open end tenure to develop a US$ 1.5 billion steel plant in Manhize without undertaking due diligence processes.

Meanwhile, CRD has also issued worrying statement where the elderly who were at the forefront of the demonstrations have been summoned by the President’s Office.

Below is the full statement:

“In 1984 government identified people from overpopulated communal areas and resettled them on productive land acquired through government under willing buyer willing seller scheme. As a result of unsecured land tenure system in Zimbabwe, these local inhabitants have become victims of Chinese mining aggression.

One of the elderly villagers summoned by the President’s Office for questioning over recent demonstration.

CRD received news this morning that Normore Mhike 56, George Gwere 78 and John Mushore 72 have been asked to appear at Mvuma CIO office tomorrow at 8.00am. The three were part of the community that demonstrated on Friday 14 June 2014 against degrading treatment of locals by Dinson Iron and Steel Mining Company. Information gathered by CRD indicate that Joseph Shoko, an administrator at Dinson Mine had threatened to unleash CIO operatives on them if they expose Dinson through a demonstration. Families facing hunger and starvation at Singleton farm, who were hurriedly relocated by Dinson also informed CRD that CIOs had intimidated them for raising similar concerns against Dinson.

Local inhabitants have in the past 2 years written letters to relevant government ministries seeking their intervention on several grievances emanating from adverse mining practices by Dinson.

Government duty bearers have not responded to the letters. From these letters, the locals have been seeking government protection against degrading treatment from Dinson ranging from arbitrary capture of land and loss of livelihoods, forced relocations without destination preparedness, failure by Dinson to commit to sign memorandum of agreements on relocation commitments and exposure of people to unbearable dust pollution among other issues.

In light of these developments, CRD would like to remind government of its constitutional and international law obligations to protect human rights.

 The manipulation of state security institutions by private entities to undermine a vulnerable farming community in Manhize must be discouraged.

 CRD calls for government to engage Dinson and local community in a transparent manner to ensure human rights protection and best mining practices”.

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