Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) senior official, Melanie Chiponda, confirmed recently that the businesspeople were receiving compensation for developments and loss of business caused by relocation.
Chiponda said the compensation started with businesspeople who were operating at Zengeni Shopping Centre, which falls under Mbada Diamond mining company.
She said the business owners have been asked to open bank accounts to enable the company to deposit their monies.
“They are being compensated for their shops that were affected by diamond mining taking place in that area,” said Chiponda.
“A total of three butcheries, a grinding mill, two bottle stores and four general dealers were affected, leaving the area with no service providers. The biggest challenge however, has been that most business people did not have bank accounts, thereby delaying the process of compensation.”
It could not be established how much the businesspeople would receive as compensation or whether a proper evaluation of the properties and businesses had been carried out.
Chiponda was hopeful that the businesspeople would also be relocated to Arda Transau Relocation Village, about 24 kilometres outside Mutare, to enable them to continue offering the services they have been giving.
“We will be meeting with some of the businesspeople soon to try and engage them to come into our new community,” Chiponda said. By late last year, over 500 families from Chiadzwa diamond fields had been relocated to Arda Transau.
The villagers moved into the three-bedroomed houses, mostly built by a private construction firm costing US$55 000 per unit. Those displaced by Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds operations have also benefited from solar panels installed at their new homes.
Miners urged to respect local cultures
A local environmental organisation has urged foreign miners to respect cultures of communities in which they do business. The call comes soon after traditional leaders attributed the low rainfall experienced in some parts of the country to the disregard of local cultures and beliefs by mining institutions.
Speaking at a workshop held recently, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) legal officer, Veronica Zano, said traditional leaders were furious over foreign miners’ violation of their cultures.
“Traditional leaders say these miners are violating their cultural rights during their operations in their communities,” she said. “These miners include the Chinese, Russians and Lebanese. they come into their communities, displace the villagers and pollute the environment. Villagers are suffering.”
Zano said traditional leaders were associating the lack of respect of local culture and beliefs to the low rainfall levels recently received in the country. The association’s projects coordinator, Gilbert Makore, said the mining sector is not growing as much as it could be due to archaic mining laws and regulations.
“The mining sector is still governed by archaic laws that are restricting the growth of the sector,” he said. “They have no provisions regarding community rights, environmental rights and general transparency.”
Presently, the association is engaging the parliamentary portfolio committee on mining on the need to review the mining laws. The government recently announced that it would finalise the long-awaited Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill when Parliament resumes sitting in May while the promulgation of a diamonds policy is expected to be completed in the second half of the year.