Villagers want diamond miners back

MUTARE - Despite the government’s insistence on “cancelling the licences” of diamond miners in Marange, villagers say their lives had improved significantly in the past few years as the companies were contributing to community development.

This follows the recent move by Mines minister Walter Chidakwa to order all diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa to stop their operations — claiming that they were doing so without licences and that they had disregarded a government directive to merge under the State-controlled Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

Now, villagers in the area who are feeling the effects of the government’s controversial decision — as illegal panners continue to invade the gem-rich Marange fields in Manicaland, creating total chaos — say they want the diamond mining companies back.

“Life was much better with the diamond miners than now, where it has once again become free for all. Even the police are struggling to contain the deluge of illegal diggers who are also pillaging property,” one villager said.

Yesterday, the parliamentary portfolio committee on Indigenisation, that was touring the fields, heard first-hand from the community that mining companies such as Mbada Diamonds had changed their lives for the better.

The headmaster of the nearby St Noah College, a school that was built by Mbada — Cuthbert Rungwe — told the committee that the government should reconsider its decision to cancel the miners’ licences.

It was disclosed that the Johanne Marange Church-owned college had received $300 000 for its buildings from Mbada, while the company had also spent money on constructing much-needed infrastructure such as roads in the area.

“The company (Mbada) gave us $235 000 worth of building materials. We also got $24 000 worth of school uniforms for our 2 600 students, as well as $26 000 worth of textbooks and a further $10 000 for the construction of staff houses.

“We look forward to Mbada’s continued presence here, as the whole community is benefitting from their social responsibility projects,” Rungwe said.

Headman Chiadzwa told the committee that Mbada diamonds is the only company that took care of the community.

“They gave us food here. Three quarters of their workforce were our children and at the same time they made sure the elderly had access to medication.

“That is why we are saying if government chooses to close them it is up to them but as a community we are happy with the company. They drilled boreholes, repaired our roads, bought cars for local headmen as well as giving them 200 litres of fuel every month.

“Food was given to more than 7 000 families. They installed a 17,5 km water pipe with 35 outlets for the community to access water.”

“This was confirmed by former Manicaland governor Chris Mushowe who raised concern over why it was only Mbada that was helping the community,” said Chiadzwa.

The Chiadzwa edict has spawned pandemonium in the lucrative Marange fields — with artisanal miners (commonly referred to as makorokoza in Shona) invading the area in their hundreds.

The panners had circled the area like vultures once it became apparent that the government and the mining companies were headed for conflict — duly moving to take advantage of the State’s announcement and the lax mine security that followed the decree.

This has all been despite the heavy presence of police in the area, with a serving soldier among those who were recently hauled before the courts in Mutare after he was found with 333 pieces of diamonds near the gem fields.

Comments (4)

Anhu imwi mwatanga kutinyepera , what is wrong with you guys. Ini ndiri mwana webocha? What development? Which village iri kufara? Mwakaende kuBambazonke here zuro kunozwe zvaitaurwa ngeanhu aiveko? The truth is mabocha haven't benefited much from the diamonds. You can just judge by the state of the roads, zvimweni hatichatauri? If there was any development it is quite insignificant to the amount of exploitation that took place. Give them a yard and take a mile kind of situation. Ndangoti ndimiririre mabocha ngekuti imwi munonga mafunga kumiririra ana Anjin.

Gunshot - 3 April 2016

People be realistic instead of wanting to see the perpetuation of the benefit of the few like chiefs and St Noah college. Which roads were constructed? Besides St Noah which other school, clinic, and public infrastructure got funding from those mining companies? Many A Level students with quality passes are busy picking nyii and herding cattle instead of being university, which company has helped them . Ngatimbona ZCDC unless riri bere with now green colour

Makaza moffat - 4 April 2016

if you want to see the results of ZCDC, or to imagine them upfront...just look at ZMDC. When you see that, then you will know where we are headed. as someone who grew up in Mashava...with the mine grabbed by govt in 2004...and now totally defunct...uchafarira n'anga neinobata mai. Musati hatina kukuyambirai. Inzwai from us takatobatwa...we now just survive on gold panning. you will join us soon too.

Gaths Mine - 4 April 2016

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