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File photo: O País
In 2017, the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) conducted a monitoring exercise covering the land and food security rights of communities affected by large investments.
In Tete province, where the Brazilian mining company Vale operates, the Bar Association found that the fundamental rights of many affected and resettled families had not been secured in the course of the exploitation of coal resources in Moatize district.
Among the key elements, the Bar Association said it had found poor and problematic housing conditions in the resettlement areas, and that the land allocated to affected families is full of stones, thus making it unsuitable for farming. These same communities faced serious problems of hunger, access to water and sources of income, and coal mining had generally had a negative impact on their living conditions.
Acting in defence of the rights of the communities concerned, the Bar Association requested that the Tete Provincial Administrative Court recognize their legitimate rights and interests and force the mining company Vale Moçambique and the Mozambican state to pay compensation. The OAM requested that Vale Moçambique pay the total amount of compensation to which affected communities were entitled and that the Mozambican state allocate productive land to the communities, among other clauses.
In a case that lasted two years, the Administrative Court of the Province of Tete, through its ruling No. 09/TAPT/19, found the factual and legal grounds presented by the Mozambican Bar Association proven as far as concerned the conduct of both Vale Moçambique and the Mozambican state.
The Tete Provincial Administrative Court ordered Vale Moçambique to rebuild all the houses that had been built under the resettlement process which are experiencing problems within 120 days, following standards set forth in the model house presented to affected communities.
The court also ordered the Mozambican state, through the government, to channel revenue generated by mining to the communities located in the exploitation areas, at the percentage set by the State Budget law, as provided for in the Mining Law and in the Circular no. 01/MPD-MF/2013 of the Ministers of Planning and Development and Finance, whose powers are today concentrated on the Minister of Economy and Finance.
However, regarding the compensation requested by the OAM relating to the loss of potters’ brick workshops and the loss of productive land and other social infrastructure, the court found that the Bar Association had failed to demonstrate that such claims had not been properly addressed.
A statement published on the Mozambican Bar Association website expresses the opinion that the decision of the Tete Administrative Court is an advance in the public interest and in the defence of human rights of communities in Mozambique.
Vale Moçambique told O País on Thursday that it would comment on the subject in due course.
By Romeo Carlos
Source: O País
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