MAC: Mines and Communities

Resettled Mozambique families protest against Brazil's Vale

Published by MAC on 2012-01-23
Source: All Africa, Reuters

Hundreds of families, displaced by Vale's Moatize coal mine in Mozambique, have blocked trains used by the Brazilian company, claiming it has failed to keep promises made them over two years ago.

The country's anti-corruption watchdog, CIP, has called on the Mozambique government to enter into dialogue with Vale in order to ensure that the rights of communities are properly protected.

Says CIP: "An institutional vacuum and a conflict of interests within the government allows the rights of the resettled communities to be abused".

Mozambique: Government Urged to Defend Resettled Communities

All Africa

17 January 2012

Maputo -The Mozambican government should ensure that the Brazilian mining company Vale keeps its promises to the families who have been resettled in Moatize district, in the western province of Tete, the anti-corruption NGO, CIP (Centre for Public Integrity) argued on Tuesday.

Last week's conflict in which many of the resettled families prevented Vale coal trains from leaving Moatize was the result "of resettlement that was badly managed by the company, and by the central, provincial and local governments, CIP claims.

CIP recalls that, between November 2009 and April 2010, Vale resettled hundreds of households from the area of its mining concession in Chipanga. 717 households regarded as "rural" were resettled in the locality of Cateme, about 40 kilometres from Moatize town. 288 households, described by Vale as "semi-urban", were resettled in the 25th September neighbourhood within the town.

That left 308 households who refused to go to either of the resettlement areas, and demanded monetary compensation instead. Those resettled in Cateme complain that they were swindled by Vale. The company showed the local government and the community leaders, as well as visiting bodies such as the International Finance Corporation, a "model house". This was well-built and seemed a desirable place to live - Vale promised that the homes fro the resettled families would be built on the same lines as the model house.

But the other houses in Cateme were shoddily built. They lacked proper foundations, and were built without beams or pillars. Vale described these as modern houses and claimed they were very common in Brazil. Mozambican civil society organisation went to look for themselves, and sent a five member delegation to Brazil, particularly to the areas where Vale operates.

They could find no house resembling those that Vale had built for the families resettled in Cateme. The construction work at Cateme was so poor that in some of the houses, roofs were leaking, and cracks appeared in the walls before anyone even moved into them.

28 families simply refused to accept their new houses. They pointed to the cracked walls, the defective roofs, and the lack of burglar bars and verandas. They also claimed that the rooms were smaller than those they had in their old houses. CIP says that both Vale and the Moatize District Permanent Secretary, Alberto Macamo, confirmed these complaints.

Resettlement took much longer than expected. The consultations and registration of households began in 2007, but families did not actually move until 2009. By then nature had taken its course and new families appeared as young people in Chipanga got married and left their parents' houses. There were about 50 of these new families, but Vale refused to take any responsibility for them, saying it would only provide new houses for the families that had existed in 2007.

Not only were the resettlement deadlines missed, but there were also delays in paying compensation to those families who refused to be resettled. There are still 30 families who have not been paid. The compensation was initially set at 87,500 meticais (about 3,230 US dollars), but was then raised to 112,000 meticais for each beneficiary, regardless of the size of their original houses. Relations between Vale and the Moatize district government soured. By mid-2010, the local government was complaining that Vale had not kept its promises concerning resettlement.

CIP warned of the problems in a report of November 2010, but no urgent measures were taken to rectify the situation. In the first half of December 2011, the population of Cateme sent a document to the district government, to Vale and to the district committee of the ruling Frelimo Party, requesting speedy intervention to solve the problems faced by the resettled communities.

That letter gave a deadline - Cateme residents wanted urgent measures taken by 10 January.

Nothing had happened by 10 January, and so on that date about 500 of those resettled in Cateme blocked the road and railway to Moatize. For about 24 hours, no trains could move on the line from Moatize to the port of Beira. The riot police were called in to disperse the crowd.

CIP suggests that, rather than relying on the riot police, the government should urgently speak to Vale in order to ensure that the promises given when resettlement began are kept."The government should ensure the economic and social development of the resettled communities", urged the CIP document. "Their well-being should take priority over the maximization of the profits of multinational companies and their local allies".

CIP also calls on the government to set up a working commission to enter into dialogue with Vale in order to ensure that the rights of communities are properly protected.

"An institutional vacuum and a conflict of interests within the government allows the rights of the resettled communities to be abused", CIP warns.

"It is urgent that the government strengthen its capacity to monitor and supervise the impacts of mining and to take pro-active measures to safeguard the well-being of Mozambicans, particularly communities living in mining and hydrocarbon exploitation areas".

Resettled Mozambique families protest against Brazil's Vale


11 January 2012

JOHANNESBURG - Families resettled by Brazilian mining giant Vale in the Tete region of Mozambique protested on Tuesday that the company had failed to keep promises it made to them in 2009.

About 700 families, resettled approximately 60 kilometres away from the Moatize coal mining site, demonstrated against the lack of access to water, electricity and agricultural land at their resettlement Cateme area.

"Many promises made by Vale before they resettled us here have not been accomplished since 2009," said community leader Eduardo Zinocassaka.

Vale refused to comment, saying it had an agreement with the local government, which would release an official comment on Wednesday morning.

The families were resettled between November 2009 and December 2010.

"Last December we sent a document-complaint to the government of Moatize District requesting their official intervention to solve the problems faced by the communities, and as we saw the government's incapacity, we decided to demonstrate," Zinocassaka told Reuters by phone.

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