MUTARE — Families affected by diamond mining operations in Chiadzwa in Marange district have accused government of sacrificing them for diamonds amid worsening humanitarian crisis as mining firms renege on some of their commitments.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Over 474 families were relocated to Arda Transau by Anjin Investments, but the families are now accusing the company of failing to supply them with food rations, provide clean water, schools and health facilities as initially promised.
Anjin Investments is a joint venture between a Chinese firm and the army.
Villagers who spoke to Standardcommunity last week said life had become unbearable at the new resettlement, as they could not access clean water and food.
They said they were also over-crowded resulting in the deterioration of general standards of living.
The villagers said they last received food rations last year in October and have been living from hand to mouth since then.
Some of them are now surviving on selling firewood to the nearby Odzi community.
“The situation here is pathetic. The government brought us here but they have since forgotten about us because they are only interested in mining diamonds,” said one villager who requested anonymity fearing victimisation.
“Chiadzwa was better because we had dignity and we were self-reliant because we had vast fields to grow food for family consumption.”
When The Standard visited the area recently, women with babies on their backs were seen carrying buckets looking for clean water for drinking purposes.
“At Chiadzwa we used to have boreholes and wells within the vicinity of our homes but here the setup is urban and the water system is always down and we are forced to seek for alternative sources of water far away,” said Luckson Mutsago (27).
Chairperson of the resettlement, Timothy Ndamera said the government and the mining companies had pledged to allocate a 0,5 hectare plot under irrigation to each resettled family but “to date the project is at a standstill”.
He said the villagers cannot embark on meaningful agricultural projects because the area is dry and they have no access to water.
Mutare district administrator, Cosmas Chiringa confirmed that the villagers had a plethora of problems they wanted addressed by government and mining companies.
He said their concerns were being handled “at the highest level”.
Manicaland governor, Chris Mushohwe lambasted the diamond mining firm saying it was not doing enough in terms of their corporate social responsibility programmes.
“The people from Manicaland have been so patient, please don’t take that patience for granted. We cannot continue watching things going on like this.
“Let the Minister of Mines be warned,” Mushohwe told a mines and mineral policy consultative meeting in Mutare recently.
Anjin spokesperson, Retired Brigadier Munyaradzi Matyatya denied that the mining company was neglecting the local community.
“Are we supposed to do all they are demanding? What agreement is there that says we must do that?” said Matyatya. “As a company we set our objectives and goals and we have fully met them.”