Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) says displaced Chiadzwa villagers must demand full compensation from diamond mining companies, instead of resorting to begging for aid which disempowers and demeans them.
Some of the displaced Marange villagers were relocated at Arda Transau to pave way for diamond mining activities but were only given relocation allowances amounting to US$1 000 per household.
The full compensation package was never released to the majority of the villagers who now rely on food handouts for survival. Even some of the villagers in Chiadzwa are now depending on aid from mining companies in the area.
There was an outcry recently when one of the companies reneged on its promise to pay school fees for affected children, fueling rising discontent in Arda Transau. There have been reports of disconnection of water supplies, inadequate food supplies and shortage of other social amenities.
Zela programmes officer, Mukasiri Sibanda urged the affected villagers to demand their compensation and stop being “cry babies”.
“You should not celebrate aid but you should be paid. This is the narrative we are working on to shed off disempowerment of the affected villagers,” said Sibanda during a preparatory workshop of the Manicaland Alternative Mining Indaba held last week.
“From that compensation is where you will have to work for yourselves and not continue relying on aid because you will be open to abuse.”
Sibanda said corruption in several sectors including mining, was the biggest threat to the recently launched Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Economic Development (Zim Asset) programme.
Sibanda also blamed the Government, as the major shareholder, for not playing its part in ensuring that companies mining in Chiadzwa honoured their pledge to the Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust (ZMCST) at a time when private companies, mostly in the Midlands were fulfilling their commitments.
Villagers attending the workshop accused the government of neglect in the ZMCST. They said they were now forming their own trust called Save Odzi Trust.
Already, there is another one called Chiadzwa Community Development Trust set up by Zela to represent the interests of the affected people.
Save Odzi Trust covers areas that include Buhera, parts of Chipinge and Chimanimani, Tonhorai and Hotsprings which are not covered under the ZMCST, despite their proximity to the mining area.
Tichaona Chibuwe from the Save Odzi Trust said they would fight corruption, nepotism, harassment of villagers and pollution while also calling for compensation and the upgrade of existing infrastructure.