NGO News Africa
December 12, 2010
According to confidential documents leaked from whistle-blower WikiLeaks, the Zimbabwean military planned to uproot as many as 25,000 villagers for control of diamond fields in the Marange region.
The military’s intentions are outlined in a document originating from the Harare Embassy detailing the area of conquest as a “government reserve area,” thereby justifying the mass displacement of these villagers.
Dated January 23, 2009, the leaked cable states that thousands of people would be coerced to live in tents nearly 40 miles from their village. The cable regards the evacuation as a necessary course of action for accommodating Marange region troops, whom NGOs have held accountable for forcing villagers into diamond mining.
However, the cable states that the plan to relocate these villagers was abandoned due to the presence of a Russian group that had discovered gold in the area.
While the document mentions the intentions of an unnamed chief to set up funds for protecting displaced villagers, the forced evacuation of these individuals from their homes is cited as a profit-generating tactic for revitalizing the country’s depressed economy. In a staggering revelation, the cable states that officials were “skeptical” of the potential success of their plan; further admitting to the deleterious effects of displacing these peoples, the cable reads it “is certain… that [military occupation] would result in additional suffering” for the villagers.
Zimbabwe has been the repeated subject of international scrutiny as headlines exposing the atrocities of the country’s diamond mining industry receive continual probes. Human rights activists monitoring the region have attested to the failure of the government to redress government abuse within the limitations of the Kimberley Process, an initiative originally established to oversee legitimate diamond trading. Yet the doctrine lacks an explicit protection for human rights and measures to enforce this protection, a fact that NGOs and other activists say is critical to its role in eradicating social abuses plaguing the diamond trade.