Back to Index
This article participates on the following special index pages:
Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
curse of Marange diamonds...as relocated villagers wallow in poverty
Andrew Mambondiyani, Bulawayo24
November 04, 2013
There is a time
when a rich resource can become a curse, either to the whole country
or a specific community.
This can be
said of diamonds in Africa, a continent infamous for its bloody
and violent civil wars. The wars fuelled by diamonds have brought
about the iniquitous child soldiers in some African countries. These
wars have resulted in years of trauma for blameless citizens as
the case with countries like Sierra Leone where efforts are underway
to rehabilitate communities traumatized by years of civil strife
fuelled by diamonds. And one of the protagonists in the Sierra Leone
conflict, former Liberian president Charles Taylor is now serving
a 50 year jail term in a British prison for the war crimes. In 2000,
the UN accused Taylor then Liberian president of supporting the
Revolutionary United Front rebellion in neighbouring Sierra Leone
with weapons and training in exchange for diamonds.
The wars associated
with the diamond industry have given birth to the so called blood
diamonds and these wicked diamonds have been popularised by the
2006 Edward Zwick hit film of same title. Though Zimbabwean diamonds
do not fit in the so called blood diamonds category, the Marange
diamonds east of Zimbabwe have gained unsavoury reputation for various
controversies ranging from water and air pollution by mining companies
to human rights abuses by Zimbabwean security agencies working in
the diamond fields.
The brutal eviction
of hard up illegal miners by President Robert Mugabe's government
got a fair share of international condemning in 2008. Though various
figured have been bandied about, human rights watch dogs agreed
that up to 200 illegal miners were brutally killed in Marange during
the wicked operation, which the government dubbed Operation Hakudzokwi.
The insalubrious operation received widespread international condemnation.
And as controversies
continue to dog the Marange diamonds, President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu-PF has been accused of using proceeds from the diamonds to
oil the election campaign machinery which resulted in the
July 31 2013 election victory. The diamond money was allegedly
unleashed to thwart the will of the people and resulted in President
Mugabe's decade long nemesis, Movement for Democratic Change leader
(MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai contesting the election results in court.
And more controversy
continue to plague the Marange diamonds even when formal mining
has started amid reports that poor villagers relocated as result
of operations by the mining companies have been dumped at Arda Transau,
a desolate government farm about 40 kilometres from the eastern
border city of Mutare, without proper amenities like schools, clinics,
clean water and electricity among others.
And the unfortunate
villagers continue to sink deeper into the abyss of stinking poverty.
The companies which had promised to give the villagers a quarterly
supply of food until they have come with income generating projects
have reneged on their earlier promises. And some villagers particularly
relocated by a Chinese company, last received their food supplies
last year. The villagers have been reduced to worse than destitute,
and today they blame their woes on the discovery of diamonds in
their area, as the mining operations have uprooted them from their
ancestral lands. To them the diamonds have but become a curse as
malnutrition and hunger are now part of many of the relocated villagers'
lives. Today they curse the day when diamonds were discovered in
their backyard as proceeds from the diamonds line the already fat
pockets of company executives with strong links to President Mugabe
and the Zanu-PF party.
As one of the
relocated villager, Cephas Gwayagwaya says of the new place: "The
soils around here in Arda Transau are like pit sand and not good
for agriculture". But according a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) signed between the diamond mining firms and government, each
company was supposed to build a primary and secondary school, clinic,
provide clean water for the relocated families while supporting
income generating projects for their livelihood. Anjin has managed
to construct a primary and secondary school as well as a clinic
while Mbada Diamonds is currently refurbishing a school. Anjin argued
that it has fully implemented the MoU signed with the government.
Arda Transau is now made up of villagers relocated by Anjin Investments,
Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds and Diamond Mining Company (DMC).
Anjin has relocated
474 families while Mbada has moved 400 households to Arda Transau,
Marange has relocated 121 families while DMC has not yet relocated
any villagers. About 4 300 families are still to be relocated.
And the administrator
for Manicaland province where Marange diamond deposits sit, Fungai
Mbetsa told journalists that part of the agreement with the companies
was to construct an irrigation scheme for villagers with water drawn
from the mighty Osborne Dam. But the companies broke the promise
resulting in the poor villagers depending entirely on the companies
for food handouts. "The companies had agreed to construct an
irrigation scheme but nothing has been done. We are not happy as
a province," Mbetsa said.
officials told journalist during a tour of ARDA Transau that several
income generating projects were being implemented for the benefit
of relocated villagers.
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.