Lloyd Gumbo in Chiadzwa
COMPANIES that were mining diamonds in Chiadzwa for the past eight years have come under fire from officials and villagers here for dumping and neglecting them when they were relocated to Arda Transau near Kondozi.
About 750 out of about 4 300 families have been relocated to the farm from Chiadzwa to pave way for mining activities following the discovery of precious gems in the area about a decade ago.
This came up during a tour of the diamond companies’ relocation projects in Mutare by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
In a briefing with the committee, Manicaland Provincial Administrator Mr Fungai Mbetsa said the communities affected by diamond operations were struggling to make ends meet as they had no source of livelihood. He said Government had evaluated all households that were to be affected by mining operations so that they could be compensated.
“But up to now people have not yet been compensated and the question now is whether the compensation has been replaced by the houses that were built in Arda Transau,” said Mr Mbetsa.
“When talk of consolidation of diamond mining started, diamond companies started resisting relocating more people and as a result, a lot of our people in Chiadzwa . . . where there are mining activities. They are inhaling dust, there are slump dams and in fact there is a child who was affected by the dust there because their houses are still in the concessions.”
Mr Mbetsa said while the diamond companies had made several pledges to assist the relocated families when they started mining, they had reneged on fulfilling the majority of them.
He said some of the pledges were that the companies would assist with irrigation facilities so that communities could have a source of livelihood from agriculture at the farm that was once owned by Arda.
“But there is no irrigation scheme to talk about today. As a result, people who were relocated have no source of livelihood.
“They had also made an undertaking that they would provide food aid to the relocated families until the irrigation scheme was up and running. But these companies have stopped the food rations.
“The delay in the irrigation scheme is now creating problems for us because relocated people are stranded remember we were only giving them a house and one hectare of land,” said Mr Mbetsa.
He said they also had challenges with a polygamous family where one of the relocated men had 16 wives.
He said the man’s wives resisted being relocated into a compound-like household demanding that they be allocated a household each which they later complied with.
Two of the 16 wives have since died.
Mr Mbetsa said they also expected the companies to honour their pledges to the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust where only $500 000 out of $50 million has been paid by Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds while nothing came from Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan and Anjin Investments.
He said a census that was conducted by Government departments revealed that about 4 300 families would need to be relocated if all the mining concessions were to be mined.
However, he said Mutare District had run out of land and as such, more land would have to be secured outside the district. Mutare acting district administrator Mr Simon Sigauke said graves had also been exhumed and reburied at a reserved place with the concurrence of the affected villagers.
Chief Zimunya said they wanted the $50 million pledge to the Community Share Ownership Trust to be honoured.
“Our people want that money because they saw the President and my colleague-chief Chief Marange presenting a cheque of $1,5 million to the Trust.
“But nothing has materialised. Now people think that the President lied which is tarnishing his image to the people. They believe the money was disbursed, but they have not seen it. So we are crying for the fulfilment of that pledge,” he said.
This prompted Zanu-PF MPs, Cdes Beatrice Nyamupinga (Goromonzi West) and Keith Guzah (Hurungwe West) to demand that the chief clarify his position saying he was bringing the name of the President into disrepute.
However, Cde Wadyajena ordered the duo to stop intimidating the chief, saying he represented the views of his subjects.
Chief Zimunya repeated his earlier submissions that the communities did not know that President Mugabe had been presented with a dummy cheque, but believed that the money had been disbursed.
Chief Marange interjected saying: “Because of that cheque, people think that we abused the money because we are the ones in charge of the Community Share Ownership Trust.
“As the Trust, the companies that were mining diamonds owe us money. So now that they have been stopped from operating, we want to know who will pay that debt, as the Trust, we don’t even know which office we should go to now.”
During the tour of Arda Transau, families that were relocated had no kind words for companies and Government officials who were instrumental in their relocation.
“They just dumped us here after having promised to establish an irrigation scheme for us so that we could have a source of livelihood,” said Mrs Mary Makuvi Dziva, the last wife of the man with 14 wives.
Another villager, Mr Stewart Wagoneka, added: “We struggling to make ends meet because they have also stopped giving us food handouts that they had pledged.”