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amid Zimbabwe's diamond fields of plenty
February 22, 2013
fence topped with coils of razor wire separates Zimbabwean subsistence
farmers, who endure perennial crop failures and scarce rainfall,
from what may be one of the world's richest diamond deposits.
diamond fields, about 90km southeast of Mutare in Manicaland
Province, drew tens of thousands of artisanal miners in 2006 as
word spread that diamonds had been found. Two years later, they
were flushed out in a heavy-handed security operation called 'Hakudzokwi'
- meaning "you will not return" - to allow commercial
mining companies to exploit the roughly 60,000-hectare site.
50, briefly gave up his life as a Marange farmer to become an artisanal
miner in 2006. With the earnings, he built himself a five-room brick-and-mortar
home with a zinc roof. He also purchased six head of cattle and
several farming implements, as well as a motorbike.
security clampdown, his 20-year-old son trespassed on the diamond
fields and was killed by guard dogs set on him by soldiers. After
that, Nyauyanga returned to his life as a farmer and slowly lapsed
back into poverty.
First, he sold
the motorbike to pay for food and for his youngest child's
school fees. Then, most of his cattle died from tick-borne diseases.
dip tank we had in the area was destroyed to make way for one of
the mines, [so] we no longer dip our cattle. Villagers here believe
that the mines are polluting the river from which our cattle and
goats drink," Nyauyanga told IRIN.
Now the diamond
companies are beginning to encroach on Nyauyanga's land. He
lost about half of his five-hectare plot when the Chinese mining
company Anjin Diamond extended its boundary into his fields.
A 2012 report
by the UK-based NGO Global Witness said Anjin Diamond was a joint
venture with the "obscure" local company Matt Bronze
and Anjin Zimbabwe's board members, which "include senior
serving and retired military and police officers."
from Anjin recently visited us and notified us that they were considering
moving us because more diamonds have been discovered where we live.
Many of us have already lost farming and grazing land to the mines,
forcing us to depend on food from donors," Nyauyanga said.
diamonds are supposed to make us happy, but they have brought misery
to people in Marange. We can't even grow vegetables. At one
time I tried to sink a well on my homestead to water my garden but
was arrested by the police who accused me of illegally mining for
diamonds," he said.
project manager for the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT),
an NGO monitoring human rights abuses in the area, told IRIN the
consequence of mining have been "catastrophic" for the
of Marange believe that the discovery of diamonds is a curse. Of
course, they at one time enjoyed the fruits of the diamonds, but
they were happier before the minerals were discovered. People are
suffering in the midst of plenty," she said.
and security services were preventing the community from engaging
in livelihood opportunities, such as hawking, she said. "The
mine owners, soldiers and the police destroyed vending sites because
they felt they were being used to illegally sell diamonds.
villagers who used to harvest and sell wild fruits along the roads
can no longer do so since the mines have cut down the trees, while
small wild animals that locals hunted for sale have disappeared,"
The area has
no medical facilities, and the nearest clinic is 50km away. "The
villagers who used to depend on herbs as an alternative to modern
medicines no longer have access to trees and shrubs that the mines
have also razed," Chiponda continued.
farmer Theresa Samuriwo, 46, from Mavhiza Village in Marange, told
IRIN, "Most of the farming here is done by women, the majority
of whom are single mothers. We can no longer sufficiently look after
our children, whom the mines have failed to give employment. We
used to grow and sell crops at irrigation projects, but the dams
have been polluted and silted-up by the mines."
The few boreholes
that were sunk several years ago are overwhelmed by villagers and
their livestock, said Chiponda, and the water table has been affected
by heavy mine use.
and 2011, the mines relocated nearly 700 families from Marange to
Arda Transau, a sprawling settlement about 40km north of the diamond
fields. Each family was provided a four-room house.
said the houses were overcrowded. "Some of the children from
the relocated families have since married. They don't have
anywhere to go, which means the households are now severely overcrowded."
She says that,
on average, six people are living in each house, and that there
are 33 relocated families who had yet to be allocated houses; they
are living in the houses of relocated relatives.
are vulnerable to manipulation by mining authorities and government
officials as they do not have social leaders, and they have no leases
to the land on which they now live," she said.
the member of parliament for Mutare West, which includes Marange,
told IRIN, "The people [from Marange] are very disgruntled
as there are no benefits that have accrued to them. Most of those
that were relocated are yet to be compensated, and the mines are
not doing anything meaningful to improve people's livelihoods."
Machacha, a director at Anjin, insists the companies are doing their
best to cushion people from nearby villages against the shocks of
done quite a lot for the communities. We have provided portable
[delivered in containers] water, a school and a [satellite] clinic
[servicing residents at Arda Transau], and sometimes [we] give food
hand-outs to households. We have also invited doctors from China
to restore eyesight to a number of people, and we are planning to
start irrigation schemes for the locals."
In 2012, the
Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), an initiative to
prevent conflict diamonds from entering the multibillion-dollar
international market, permitted Zimbabwe to sell Marange diamonds
with KPCS certification after barring it for years over claims of
widespread human rights abuses at Marange's diamond operations.
Union (EU) recently decided to keep the government-controlled Zimbabwean
Diamond Mining Company (ZDMC) on its sanctions list, even though
Belgium, an EU member, had proposed lifting the sanctions.
welcomed the retention of EU sanctions against the ZMDC in an 18
February statement, although it noted that Anjin Diamonds was not
covered by the "restrictive measures."
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