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  • Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles

  • Transparency needed about Marange diamonds - Interview with Melania Chiponda
    Upenyu Makoni Muchemwa,
    January 18, 2012

    Read Inside/Out with Melania Chiponda

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    Melania ChipondaMelania Chiponda is the Programme Manager for Chiadzwa Community Development Trust. CCDT was formed with the objective of lobbying and advocating for mining authorities to involve and consult communities on efforts to reform mining laws as well as to monitor the human rights situation in Marange. CCDT has become the community's mouthpiece in negotiations with all stakeholders, including donor and government agencies.
    Source: and Zimbabwe Independent

    What is life like in Chiadzwa?
    It's not good. It's depressing. We had a meeting with the community last week, and found that the relocation is being done at random. Now it is going so fast. Most people there think that it's a political problem. The mining companies haven't even started mining where they've removed people. All the mining companies are involved in this.

    Have the people who are being relocated been compensated?
    No that's the most depressing issue. Some of them were even forced to sell their livestock. Most rural households average seven hectares, and where they are going the plot size is one hectare. Given that Chiadzwa is a region five area they only do livestock farming. Now they are forced to reduce the size of their herd. Around Christmas time people were selling their cattle for $200 a head. It was so cheap that it was painful. Goats were sold at giveaway prices because the people were saying they don't have space at the relocation area in Arda Transau. Listen

    I understand you have a case against the companies that were instituting forced evictions. Are you still working on this?
    Yes, but you know what the legal system is like here. We did an urgent application and it was thrown out because they had not started relocating people so the court said it wasn't urgent. We haven't given up, but this year we are going to do a human rights mobilisation and education programme. For us to take action we have to do it together with the community. They have to understand what is wrong with the way that things are done. We are definitely going to challenge the companies on issues of compensation, on issues of adequate housing. We were the first to say that the houses built by Anjin were of poor quality. Sometime last November 89 of those houses were destroyed by the first storm of the rainy season. Listen

    You mentioned that you have to do community mobilisation. Is the community not unhappy about the way they are being treated by the government and the mining companies?
    They are very, very unhappy. They are not happy with the lack of information from the government. Some of them were given just three days' notice of the relocation. They were not really informed household by household. They just saw it in the newspapers. People expected that they would be informed on an individual household basis. Nothing came. Then when the DA came and made evaluations he left some houses out.

    Is the community leadership, the chiefs, the DA, the Headmen doing anything to assist the community?
    We are not certain of the system being used by these companies to deal with the community. They've made sure that the chiefs have beautiful houses and given them and the headmen Vigo double cabs. We only have one headman who is saying this is not proper, though he also has a car. He's been trying to tell the people not to leave before their houses have been evaluated so they know the value. But his is just one voice crying in the wilderness because no one is listening. The community is not saying they don't want the diamonds to be mined, but they want it to be done in such a way that their concerns are addressed and that their social and economic rights are also observed. Listen

    I read that the first 300 families to be relocated were given $1000 per family and groceries as compensation. Is this true?
    They were given a $1000 yes, but it's not compensation. Since 2009 there was no farming in Chiadzwa because everyone was waiting and no one was communicating with them about when they would move. We are saying that that money is not enough for them when they haven't had anything for almost two years. That is the only money they've received up to now. How are they supposed to survive? Then the food quantities . . . it was only after a year that Anjin started giving food. The company that has given the most hand outs on a regular basis is Marange Resources. But it's not enough. People don't want handouts. They have pride in working for themselves. Locals are not guaranteed employment in the mine. When we spoke to a certain company they said the local people were thieves. We later found out that the people who were stealing actually came from as far as Muzarabani and all over Zimbabwe. Some of these people were getting bribes for employment. Some of these companies are notorious for getting bribes. The people of Marange are too poor to pay bribes.

    How has the mining affected the women of the community?
    I really feel for the women. Frustration is vented on women. They are the most affected. Rural women depend on the land and when the land is taken away their livelihood has been taken. When they count households they count men. Women-headed households are left out. Women are not even involved in decision-making.

    What is your opinion of the decision by the Kimberly Process to certify Zimbabwean diamonds?
    There are still human rights violations in Chiadzwa. That's a fact. But to say that the diamonds should not be sold ... I don't think that would benefit anybody. They will still be smuggled and sold anyway.

    Are you saying then that they should sell the diamonds but the process should be more accountable?
    Yes. We were part of 'Publish what you Pay' and the Zimbabwe Mining Revenue Transparency. I think the process should be transparent. We only hear that there are diamonds in Chiadzwa, but in which area was exploration done, apart from the one done by De Beers? And the 58 000 hectares that they claim is a diamond field, is that all? Because at the beginning of this year the fireguard was extended. Now the community which is most affected doesn't have this information. They want to know what's next for them. I mean where are the diamonds? Where are they to mined? For how long are they going to mine? How many diamonds are they getting from there and how much are they worth? What is the government getting? What is the local authority getting? They have nothing. No information whatsoever. Listen

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