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Marange communities blame inflation as US$5 million from ZCDC vanishes

Marange and Arda Transau communities have blamed inflation for the vanishing of US$5 million injected by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Corporation (ZCDC) through the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).

The CSOT collapsed last year, only three years after the ZCDC injected US$5 million to prop it up.

The latest report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines on the assessment of the diamond sector in Zimbabwe, revealed that the communities in Marange and Arda Transau blamed inflation for the worthlessness of the funds.

“There were complaints that the US$5 million that was given to the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) was eroded by inflation hence it did not achieve its intended objectives,” read the report.

“A call was made for an audit to be conducted to ensure that all the monies that were disbursed through the CSOT could be accounted for.”

It was further established that there were no written agreements or contracts on the relocation program and as a result the communities could not hold the companies accountable for unpaid compensation.

After relocating these communities from the precious mineral, it was ZCDC and Anjin’s duty to make sure the moved people had access to clean water and good houses as part of corporate social responsibility. But the Parliament found otherwise.

“The community at Arda Transau stated that they did not have title deeds for their houses which makes them insecure about the future. The Ministry of Local Government and Public Works was called upon to address this issue.

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“There were also complaints that some of the houses had already developed cracks and needed repair. Furthermore, the community had no access to clean water and electricity. A call was made for more land to be acquired to depopulate the community at Arda Transau.

“At Chirasika, in Arda Transau, concern was raised over the shortage of classroom blocks. toilets, teachers’ accommodation and water storage tanks. The community also highlighted the need for a vocational training centre for skills development particularly for the youth.

“ZCDC and Anjin were accused of shirking corporate social responsibility programs. The communities had to beg the companies to implement corporate social responsibility activities.”

The report also stated that there was a perception that the companies chose to associate themselves with a few members of the community, such as the Chief and Headman and exclude the rest of the community.

“Community members located in the mining concessions of Chiadzwa expressed concern on change of chieftainship in the event that they are relocated to Arda Transau. A call was made for dialogue between the two traditional leaders, Chief Marange and Chief Zimunya before more people were relocated.

There were allegations raised that members of the security services deployed in Marange were involved in corrupt activities, whereupon they take bribes to facilitate illegal panning of diamonds during the night.”

The MPs, however, noted that the level of human rights abuses and violations by state and private security agents had significantly gone down.

“The situation was considered normal when compared to previous years where reports of beatings and other forms of abuse were reportedly rampant.

“However, some community members were of the view that the area was still a protected area and in some cases, people were searched or asked for identification by the police or military personnel which restricts freedom of movement in the area,” read the report.