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Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
left worse off by local mining companies
Tatenda Dewa, Inter Press Service
November 01, 2013
from the rural village of Mutoko, which lies about 200 km northeast
of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, plugs his ears with his fingers
and shakes his head as he watches miners close to his village blast
the hard rock to extract the black granite within.
Deep and wide
gullies have replaced the rolling pastures in this village in Mashonaland
East Province where thriving livestock once roamed freely. It is
difficult to see the blue skies as grey dust formed from the explosions
billows upwards to fill the skyline.
who go to the clinic with breathing problems have been told that
their illness is caused by inhaling too much dust or smoking. The
mining companies should set up a health fund to ensure villagers
get sufficient treatment,” 70-year-old Zimbeva told IPS.
sometimes die after drinking water from the gullies and it could
be contaminated by chemicals and no one seems to care. All they
want is money.”
But the cattle
deaths, which happen every year, are not frequent. And Zimbeva and
the people of Mutoko have no proof about what causes this, many
do not have the money to seek veterinary assistance. People here
are poor and have been experiencing worsening hunger due to the
less cattle now because this black granite [mining] has taken away
the grazing land. Worse still, [the mining companies] have turned
a deaf ear to our requests for them to employ our sons and daughters,
choosing to take people from other areas instead,” said Zimbeva.
About 10 companies,
which are both local and foreign owned, are extracting granite from
this rural district. The contact details of some of these mining
companies are obscure and difficult to obtain. While IPS was able
to make contact with a representative from one of the mining companies
involved, they refused to comment.
that Zimbabwe holds some of the richest mineral deposits in Africa,
including platinum, diamonds, asbestos, graphite and gold. But activists
and economists accuse some indigenous and emerging mining companies
of not improving the welfare of local communities and leaving them
worse off than before.
economist John Robertson explained that emerging mining companies,
which the government is heavily involved in, were different from
multi-nationals that tend to cater for the welfare of local communities.
of these multi-nationals have management teams running the equivalent
of municipalities, complete with hospitals, schools, housing schemes.
This is where they differ from the indigenous and emerging extracting
companies where rules don’t seem to apply and greed rules,”
Robertson told IPS.
who once lived on the Marange diamond field in Manicaland Province,
which is estimated to be about 71,000 hectares and thought to hold
about a quarter of the world’s diamond deposits, the compensation
offered to them by mining companies for relocating has not been
About 693 families,
who had lived for decades on the diamond fields, were moved to a
derelict farm called Arda Transau, which is near Manicaland Province’s
main town, Mutare. A total of 4,300 households have been identified
While Arda Transau
has now been developed and families have been given four bedroom
houses as compensation for the loss of their homes, this is seen
by many as inadequate.
of mining activities in Marange has claimed much of the land used
by locals for subsistence, [and also] community infrastructure,
such as dams, that provided water for market gardening. Small business
such as shops and stalls were closed down,” Melanie Chiponda,
the director of Chiadzwa Community Development Trust, a lobby group
promoting the rights of local villagers whose communities
border the mining field, told IPS.
have created a dependency syndrome among the households. They are
hardly involved in corporate social responsibility activities and
the people are secondary. It is all about profits and never the
people, who are incapacitated to negotiate for better arrangements,”
people were worse off since they had been relocated as they mostly
lived on food handouts from humanitarian agencies and on donations
from the mines. She added that a large number of children dropped
out of school and are helping to support their families by selling
the executive director at the Zimbabwe Natural Resources Dialogue
Forum, a non-profit advocacy organisation seeking to promote the
sustainable extraction of the country’s resources, told IPS
that because mining concessions were granted behind closed doors,
it left loopholes that made communities vulnerable.
in which the concessions are granted by the government is wrong
because it excludes communities. There is no transparency and it
seems they are given along politically partisan lines. In most cases,
environmental impact assessments are done well after mining starts,”
A report released
in June this year by the mining parliamentary committee, accused
the ministry of mines and mining development of granting licences
to companies to mine at Marange without fully disclosing how this
The report states
that the government parastatal Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) has joint ownership of three of the companies operating at
the Marange diamond field. The ZMDC also owns 100 percent shares
in another mining company operating at Marange.
minister of mines and mining development Gift Chimanikire, from
the Movement for Democratic Change, refused to comment on the mining
companies that the government had a stake in. He told IPS he was
no longer part of the government following his exclusion from a
cabinet formed after President Robert Mugabe won
the Jul. 31 election.
mines and mining development officials referred questions to the
current minister, Walter Chidhakwa. But he did not respond to calls.
committee report also said the government had not “realised
any meaningful contributions from the [diamond] mining sector”
despite the fact that “production levels and the revenue generated
from exports have been on the increase.”
In 2011 and
2012, mining companies in Zimbabwe exported diamonds worth a total
797 million dollars, yet only 82 million dollars was remitted to
the companies of failing to distribute money from the community
share ownership trusts announced by the government. According to
and Economic Empowerment Act, foreign-owned mining companies
are required to transfer 51 percent of their shares to locals. This
money was meant to placed in the community ownership trusts and
distributed among affected communities.
problem is that the government is heavily involved in these joint
ventures and operations tend to take a political dimension,”
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