George Maponga in Masvingo
Murowa Diamond Company has given in to relentless pressure from villagers in the Sese area of Chivi and decamped from a local school, ending three years of acrimony that at one time spilled into the courts.
The gem miner was exploring for diamonds in Sese since 2018 and clashed with villagers after setting up a camp at Danhamombe High School.
The move courted the ire of villagers who argued that by camping at the school, Murowa was disrupting learning activities and hampering plans to expand the institution into a boarding school to serve the Sese folk.
Following a protracted battle Murowa on Wednesday started removing its equipment from its main camp at Danhamombe High School.
The miner has also shelved exploration, with equipment such as drilling rigs and tractors being taken to its main camp in Mazvihwa, Zvishavane where Murowa operates its only diamond mine in the country.
Sese area is reputed to be home to diamonds and the exploration by Murowa was to determine whether kimberlites there contained commercially exploitable gems.
Ward 20 Councillor Aleck Nhundu confirmed that Murowa had started packing its bags and pledged to assist the miner to secure a place to open a new camp in the area.
Sese Community Development Trust secretary Mr Musiiwa Musiiwa said that the decamping of Murowa from Danhamombe was a huge victory for the people in his area.
Chivi district development coordinator Mr Innocent Matingwina noted that the move by Murowa to finally decamp from Danhamombe High School would diffuse tension and lay pillars for trust building.
The dispute between Sese villagers and Murowa took a new twist last week after the former started mobilising equipment including bricks, concrete and excavators at Danhamombe to start civil works on planned hostels for the mooted boarding school.
Murowa owns nearly 200 diamond claims in Sese and the firm is only one of the four companies allowed to mine gems in Zimbabwe under the country’s diamond policy.
The other three are Anjin of China, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company and Alrosa of Russia.