By Alex Bell
The Mbada diamond mining firm that operates in the Marange region has been criticised for a record breaking football tournament sponsorship deal, despite the abject poverty facing thousands of people removed from the area.
Mbada, which is a joint mining initiative with the state owned Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC) and complex network of investors, has increased its yearly sponsoring of the Mbada Diamonds Cup to one million dollars. This funding represents the largest, single cash boost in Zimbabwe’s football history.
The much lauded sponsorship comes as thousands of people, forcibly removed from their homes in Marange to make way for the diamond mining operation, are living in poverty.
According to the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, only 100 housing units out of a planned 487 homes for the relocated families have been built, despite promises by Mbada. At the same time, the diamond firms at Marange have refused to compensate the families who were all forcibly relocated to Arda Transau, a government-owned farm located about 40km north of Marange.
“Recent visits to Arda Transau by Centre for Natural Resources Governance and Chiadzwa Community Development Trust revealed shocking levels of starvation. Women and children have turned to cutting firewood and grass for sale at Odzi Business centre, about 9km from Arda Transau, for subsistence. There is no source of employment at Arda Transau. The primary school at Arda Transau is incomplete and poorly resourced whilst there is no accommodation for teachers at the school,” the Centre said in a statement.
The Centre’s Director, Farai Maguwu said: “This million dollar sponsorship is a completely misplaced priority, when there are shocking levels of starvation. And it is a great injustice to the people of Marange.”
The Centre meanwhile said it is “fitting” to call the Mbada Diamonds Cup a “Cup of Shame.”
“Whilst football coaches, players and fans will celebrate every goal scored and their victories in the tournament, it must be known that the real losers in the tournament are not the losing football teams but the people of Marange whose poverty and misery is making the tournament possible,” the Centre said. SW Radio Africa