Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Govt, Marange miners clash over Chiadzwa relocation

By  Kenneth Matimaire

The government and Marange diamond mining firms have clashed over the relocation agreement signed by the two parties when villagers were resettled from Chiadzwa to Arda Transau.

A diamond mine in Marange
A diamond mine in Marange

Government has been pointing fingers at the miners over the challenges bedeviling villagers relocated to Arda Transau and those still trapped in Chiadzwa. Manicaland provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa is on record accusing the miners of prioritising mining at the expense of the welfare of the relocated villagers.

Mbetsa said the mining firms were reluctant to construct outstanding structures and complete the relocation exercise as mandated by their signed agreement.

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He said the agreement dictated that each company was to build a primary and secondary school and a clinic, and provide clean water for the relocated families while supporting income-generating projects for their livelihood.

However, the diamond companies last week hit back, demanding that government be honest over the nature of the relocation agreement.

The Zimbabwean has established that five companies, namely Anjin Investment, Jinan Mining, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources and Diamond Mining Company, have relocated a total of 781 households while 4,800 are still to be relocated.

Anjin has relocated 466 families, Jinan 129 while Mbada, Marange and DMC have resettled 102, 44 and 40 families respectively since 2010. The villagers have been up in arms with miners demanding a proper learning environment for their children, standard health facilities and compensation from the miners. Apparently, the villagers only received $1,000 disturbance allowances.

However, the situation took another turn last week as Anjin for the first time opened up on the Chiadzwa relocation saga while other diamond miners remain mum in fear of victimisation from the government.

The company’s deputy director, Gertrude Takawira, said the government was not being truthful and demanded that it make public the document in black and white. She insisted that Anjin had fulfilled its requirements as prescribed in the agreement and understands and that Arda had been handed back to government and was no longer a prerogative for the miners.

“It’s important for the media to see the agreement that was signed between government and companies in relation to the relocation exercise. The Arda resettlement area was handed over to the Government of Zimbabwe and it is no longer under our jurisdiction.

“All grievances should be addressed to the government. The government has to be honest with the people. We handed over Arda Transau back to them.

“The agreement was for us to construct houses, a clinic, primary and secondary school for the people as compensation for relocating them from Chiadzwa and as Anjin we completed our task long back. We have relocated over 400 people. Some companies have as little as 50 people,” she said.

Investigations by The Zimbabwean indicated that Anjin has built a clinic, rebuilt a primary and secondary school while Mbada has refurbished a school under its settlement.

“The only outstanding issue is the irrigation scheme but government stopped us under the pretext they had their own set up, which they wanted and up to now we are still waiting for it. The problem now is even if it comes, it’s too late as we are facing challenges,” said Takawira.

Mining expert Mutuso Dhliwayo said relocation should always benefit the affected, which is not the case in Chiadzwa.

“The principles of relocation and compensation should provide a better option for the affected communities. They should be positioned in a better set-up than they were considering that they left their ancestral homes and graveyards. But if you look at Chiadzwa, it is not the case. They were only given a paltry $1,000 as compensation,” he said.

The Minister of Provincial Affairs for Manicaland, Chris Mushohwe, came out guns blazing as he expressed distaste over the attitude exhibited by the miners.

“Yes we are grateful that the companies built houses for the people of Marange but people had to be moved for them to mine. So they should not take building houses as something that is out of this world. It was a necessity,” he said. The Zimbabwean