This press statement comes from the Centre For Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), Zimbabwe; a YLNM Network member-group. We stand in solidarity with Myness, CNRG and the Chidazwa Community Development Trust in denouncing the aggression of the authorities against all advocates for life, human rights and community.
16 October 2015
A courageous woman at Arda Transau, human rights defender Myness Musaamba, was yesterday assaulted by a pro-government and ruling party activist, one Mrs Kusena and threatened with death by a rowdy crowd at a ‘development coordination’ meeting called by the local Councillor Mr Kamanja. The so-called development coordination meeting for the community groups at Arda Transau was hatched at yet another stormy meeting called by the Mutare District Administrator, Mr Cosmas Sigauke about three weeks ago where he strongly reprimanded Myness Musaamba for speaking out against injustice at Arda Transau. At the first meeting she was also threatened with death by some people in the crowd following the DA’s inflammatory remarks about her.
Yesterday Myness was waylaid to the meeting by Councillor Kamanja who said the meeting was meant to bring all community groups together so that their development activities are coordinated. Little did she know that the meeting was targeting her. She arrived late and upon arrival the Councillor closed through a vote of thanks and prayer. Myness was then approached by one Edward Chirasika who said there was going to be a side meeting. About 30 people attended the side meeting including Councillor Kamanja. The group then asked Myness why she is working with Centre for Natural Resource Governance and Chiadzwa Community Development Trust. They demanded that she produce registration papers for the two organization which she could not produce as she is not employed by the two organizations. She explained that her role was only to assist in coordinating development assistance for the starving villagers. They said any assistance must go through the DA’s office, adding that the District Administrator had called them to a meeting where he called upon the community to ban CNRG and CCDT activities. They accused CNRG of labelling Zimbabwe’s diamonds ‘blood diamonds’. A man in the crowd lifted a newspaper whose cover page had CNRG Director Farai Maguwu’s picture and shouted ‘sell outs’.
They narrated that Zimbabwe was liberated through much loss of blood and Myness’ blood was going to be shed because she was selling out the community to enemies of the state. Attempts to explain her activities were unfruitful as her voice was drowned by the crowd that was shouting that she be dealt with effectively. At that point Mrs Kusena stood up and physically assaulted Myness. She was later restrained by some in the crowd whilst others called on the youths to drag her away and deal with her in the same manner they have dealt with all sell outs. The youths were also asked to go and assault CNRG officials and community members attending a CNRG meeting that was running concurrently with the Councillors meeting at Arda Transau. The crowd nevertheless warned that Myness was certainly going to lose the plot allocated to her at Anjin relocation site. She got the plot following her forced displacement from Marange where her family plot was confiscated by the state to pave way for diamond mining activities in 2010. After the assault Myness approached Councillor Kamanja whom she asked whether this is the ‘development meeting’ he meant when he invited her. The councillor claimed he didn’t notice the assault even though it happened right in his presence. Myness later made a police report at Odzi Police Station where an officer was tasked with investigating the matter.
Myness was recently honoured by Giraffe Heroes Zimbabwe for her courageous work in defending and promoting the rights of displaced families at Arda Transau. She has played a crucial role in speaking out on behalf of her community.
Some of the thugs who were baying for Myness’ blood are Edward Chirasika who had called Myness aside to meet the group, Mrs Rabaya also known as Ketty Mtetwa, Mrs Tonhorai, Mrs Rwizi also known as Roriety Nyamhunga who leads what is called Women’s Bureau and John Makuyana who insisted CCDT and CNRG must be banned from entering Arda Transau as they are allegedly bringing a wrong message to the community.
CNRG strongly condemns the barbaric assault on an innocent woman whose courageous but peaceful activities do no harm anyone but rather aims at restoring the dignity of the displaced Marange families. We also call on the Police to ensure Myness and her family gets the full protection of the law against further harm or threats and that her constitutional rights are fully respected.
Read more about Myness and her struggle against the injustices faced by villagers of Arda Transau who were forcibly displaced by diamond mining in 2010.
Centre for Natural Resource Governance
ZimRights House, Alveston Court
Cnr Baines Ave/4th St