Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Broken Promises: Marange residents still living in poverty, 15 years later

Residents of Arda Transau in Eastern Zimbabwe who were forcibly relocated from their ancestral villages to make way for mining in one of the world’s largest diamond-producing projects in Marange are still living in abject poverty 15 years since the discovery of the diamond fields.

After being removed from their land, with foreign companies and the government making billions, authorities promised homes, electricity, water, employment, social services and compensation. Fifteen years later, residents and civil society organizations say they have still not received many of these promises.

They are relying on polluted rivers while their houses are in constant dilapidation.

Executive Director at the Centre for Natural Resource Governance Farai Maguwu, confirmed that the residents continue to be neglected

“Arda Transau where thousands of families were dumped to pave way for diamond mining resembles a concentration camp. I once met former PA Fungai Mbetsa and asked him about the welfare of these people and he said shamwari handizvo zvandafambira,” he said.

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“When they were forced off their ancestral land they were promised many things, including free taped water, free electricity, big fields, free education etc. All these have not been honored. A big chunk of the community fetches water at an unprotected little well.

“I was told at evening long queues form at this well. The water springs from the ground and it often takes several minutes before a bucket is full. Meanwhile diamond mining is continuing at Marange. It takes a few carats to drill boreholes for this entire community.

“The houses are cracking. At one house the roof curved in. An elderly woman in the picture told me it’s a question of time before the wall falls on her. She said may it not happen at night. She said in Marange she had a small house but it was strong and she was at peace.

“But I often watch National Geographic and have many times been to Hwange. A big lesson is that in the animal kingdom they take care of their own. Ko takundwa naana mukanya here nhai hama dzangu. The above scenario is called SOCIAL INJUSTICE.”

After the discovery of diamonds in Marange in 2006, the Zimbabwean government in 2008 controversially took control of the mining fields and deployed the military in the Mutare and Chiadzwa diamond field areas.

In what they termed Operation Hakudzokwi, over 200 people were killed when military helicopters fired on ‘illegal’ diamond panners from the air.