By Alois Vinga
CLAIMS by US Customs and Border Protection alleging the use of forced labour in Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector are a result of confusion caused by small scale miners who misrepresent facts when they are caught, Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has said.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com Business Wednesday, CNRG executive director, Farai Maguwu said his organisation has not encountered any incidences of forced labour for past seven years.
Said Maguwu: “We have been working in Marange since 2012 and we have not come across cases of forced labour in Marange, be it concerning full time employees, casual contract workers or artisanal miners.”
However he explained that the claims could be failure to appreciate that artisanal miners voluntarily get into the diamond concession and when they are caught for trespassing they misrepresent facts leading to issues of human rights violations.
“We have raised several issues of concern regarding the treatment of community members both by the State and mining companies but forced labour is definitely not one of the issues that have arisen,” Maguwu said.
The remarks come against a recent move by the US Customs and Border Protection ban of Zimbabwe gems alongside other countries products based on information indicating that the products are produced in whole or in part using forced labor.
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued five Withhold Release Orders (WROs) covering five different products, imported from five different countries yesterday, September 30. This action was based on information obtained and reviewed by CBP that indicates that the products are produced, in whole or in part, using forced labor,” the communication said in part.