Community members who are part of Heal Zimbabwe’s Community Peace Clubs (CPCs) have noted that oil companies that are exploring oil and gas are fueling conflicts in Muzarabani North. This came our during a CPC reflection meeting conducted by communities working with Heal Zimbabwe in Muzarabani North on 27 September 2021.
Participants noted that since reports of discovery of oil and gas in the area, the community has witnessed increased tensions and conflicts. A case in point is that of Village head Muchedzi who was deposed from his post by ZANU PF activists after he engaged the companies and highlighted that there was need for the companies to also consult community members before any displacements.”If you try to highlight that these companies must engage us first, you are labeled anti-development and labeled a sellout. The case of Village head Muchedzi serves to highlight the consequences of speaking out against injustice”, said one participant. The meeting also noted that in some instances, these mining companies have opened up gravel roads where there are graves and this has angered community members. Other issues that came out of the meeting include the politicization of employment opportunities by Zanu Pf Vice Chairperson, Denshot Mazarura and Ward 6 Councillor, Norman Chizeya.These two cherry pick individuals for employment at the oil companies on the basis of political affiliation. As part of resolutions, the peace clubs resolved to continue documenting and reporting cases of human rights violations to the responsible institutions and also continue mediating conflicts in a bid to build social cohesion in local communities.
The meetings by Heal Zimbabwe are part of efforts to empower local communities to help safeguard against human rights abuse and also help build peaceful communities. Heal Zimbabwe utilizes various strategies to address conflicts in local communities. One of these ways is the use of community dialogues, an initiative for communities to discuss and collectively identify ways through which they can proffer solutions to problems in their communities. The platforms also equip communities with relevant information on Covid 19, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and human rights. Such platforms also facilitate local level conversations on pertinent issues affecting communities as well as create socially cohesive communities.