Three illegal diamond miners killed in Marange

HARARE - The bodies of three illegal miners were recovered in the Marange diamond fields last month amid a fresh diamond rush, Mines minister Walter Chidakwa has told the Senate.

Chidakwa told senators on Thursday that the government is struggling to maintain peace in Chiadzwa.

“The diamonds are not easy. Everyday you can expect to hear something from Marange and riveting also, you have to take action at night and direct them to do that and that. They can break the fences to get in and would take out some bags (of diamond ore); they get stabbed and three of them died just three weeks ago,” Chidakwa said.

Chidakwa was responding to Zanu PF Manicaland Senator Monica Mutsvangwa who complained about the chaotic situation in Chiadzwa.

Chidakwa said there is need to grow the economy to stop the chaos.

“I know that you are parents and it is your children who do the mining and they are the ones who go and try to get into Marange.  We are fighting them — you ask them why they are doing that and they say that is where we can be able to eke out a living.

“I am a parent and you must understand that I must balance between being a minister and understanding the young people when they say that is where they can be able to eke out a living.

“I must balance that because you may want to send the police (black boots) and kick them out like what we did on the rivers because we saw immediate danger there; we would kill the rivers and kill agriculture.

“We had to kick people out of the rivers but are you going to kick people out of everything and out of everywhere?”

The Marange diamond area, 400km east of Harare, was the focus of controversy when 20 000 illegal miners invaded in 2008 and were then forcibly removed by soldiers and police.

Human rights groups say up to 200 people were killed during their removal but President Robert Mugabe’s government denies the charges.

Chidakwa said the problem can only be resolved by growing the economy.

“Some of those young people do not want to stay underground.  If they get good incomes in their former jobs, they will go back there and that is what we need to do.

“So, I know that there are pressures.  We make decisions in a very highly pressurised environment and we are working in a very highly pressurised environment, yet we must make decisions because that is where leadership is tested.

“Leadership is not tested when things are easy but it is tested when things are bad.”

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