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OPEN LETTER ON THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN MARANGE

Chief Executive Officer

Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC)

35-37 Casham Avenue

Borrowdale

Harare

Zimbabwe

29th December 2020

RE: OPEN LETTER ON THE IMPACT OF MINING ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN MARANGE

We are greatly concerned with the violation of children’s rights especially the impact that violation of the right to a healthy environment is affecting the right to education in Marange. Since 2010, when diamond mining was formalised in Marange area, mining activities has put the education system in Marange at a very precarious position.

For instance, in 2010 the Diamond Mining Company (DMC) was given a concession that surrounds two schools   namely Chiadzwa primary school and Chiadzwa Secondary school better known as (Gandauta Primary school). This led to school children learning in a mining concession. Mining operations like excavating and blasting occurred nearer the children and that contributed to noise pollution, dust pollution and air pollution in the area. This disturbed the school learning environment of both primary and secondary schools.

With the coming in of ZCDC in June 2016 the company inherited all the problems which had been left by other mining companies. Henceforth this raised hopes for the community  that the company was   going to rectify issues that have been raised affecting the right to a healthy environment and education for children but  unfortunately much was not done except building a classroom block, library, and refurbishment of  other furniture for  the secondary school. Not much was done for the primary school though equally affected.

A recent research undertaken by ZELA  revealed that a sizeable number of children have been exposed to some environmental hazards due to unsustainable mining activities. Mine workers and the security sector has been mixing with school children thereby compromising the learning process. Moreso these school children are walking long distances for about 10km to HotSprings Secondary School and would greatly appreciate if  would extend its hand through transport provision even in one of their staff buses . Retrieved from (http://www.zela.org/download/research-on-the-impact-of-mining-on-children-youthsright-to-a-healthy-sustainable-environment-in-zimbabwe/). In addition, children suffer a larger burden of the impacts from diamond mining. The demolishing of schools meant that some of the children have to travel long distances to attend school or they drop out of school altogether. Some schools lost parts of their land used for sporting, gardening and recreation activities. This resulted in the school pass rate dropping. For example at Chiadzwa primary school, only two students passed their ZIMSEC grade seven examinations in 2012.A study by Zimbabwe Diamond And Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU) in 2019 ascertained that education standards of schools in the so called green zone of diamond mining have their educational standards falling.

Furthermore, children in Marange are not only succumbed to environmental, and socioeconomic impacts intensified by the development of mining activities, but also the right to be heard in decision making. Focus on decision making plans are instigated by ZCDC corporate social responsibility (CSR) department through local leadership and responsible government department to influence transformation, but little attention is given to  the needs of children as they   are partially involved in the planning process which is a great hindrance to sustainable mining development. The voice of children in influencing CSR decision are limited resulting to less children driven projects. CSR is ideal in resuscitating the community needs but lack of effective participation of children and child centred project to mitigate impacts of mining hinder its effectiveness. The very vulnerable children are given partial opportunities to participate whilst they are the most affected and at the peek of mining effects in Marange.

Owing to this appalling state of affairs in Marange area we do  hereby make the following demands and recommendations to  ZCDC.

  •   In conducting human rights due diligence on the impact of their mining activities on human rights and environment, ZCDC should take consideration of vulnerable groups like children who are most affected by the negative impacts.
  • ZCDC should create a platform where stakeholders including children can meet to discuss development in Marange. The issues affecting children are   important  such that we must collectively work together to nurture the future generations. This may mean creating child led structures which represents young people’s needs. We appeal  to ZCDC to include children themselves at decision platforms starting at grassroots level so that they can learn early the importance of their rights and be a part of the developments and they become a generation that is vigilant about their rights to prepare the next generation. ZCDC to leverage youth participation through supporting youth local content skills  and  development.
  • It is of great importance to have child fund allocation targeted at mitigating mining impacts with child enhanced services such as improved schools, health, public services, environment, and development

We pray that the ZCDC  will be pleased to take this case into favourable consideration. As a show of good faith, we implore ZCDC to sign our petition calling on the respect of the right to a healthy environment internationally available at http://www.my-planet-my-rights.org.

Yours faithfully

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association – Youth Network

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