via Diamond miners dump families | The Herald January 6, 2014 by Lloyd Gumbo
More than 3 000 families in and around the Chiadzwa diamond fields face hunger after their farmland was barricaded by mining concessions leaving them with nowhere to grow crops for sustenance, it has been established.Their plight is exacerbated by the fact that some companies mining diamonds in the area appear not keen on building houses for affected families on land provided by Government in 2011 and, officials say, some diamond mining firms have been reluctant to give the families food handouts while at the same time stalling their relocation.
To that end, Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Christopher Mu- shohwe called on mining companies to expedite the required relocations.
Only 1 400 out of about 4 500 families from the diamond-rich area, Minister Mu- shohwe said, had been moved to Arda Transau four years ago.
Government provides land for relocations while the diamond mining companies must bankroll construction of houses and other amenities such as schools, clinics and roads.
There are seven companies licensed to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa: Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Jinan, Kusena and Gye Nyame.
They mostly operate as joint ventures with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation , which has come under fire from President Mugabe for not contributing to the national economy as it should.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has since dissolved the ZMDC board, as well as those of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe and Marange Resources. Marange Resources is wholly-owned by ZMDC.
Minister Mushohwe said: “Because of the mining activities in the area, most of the people lost their (farming) fields since they are in mining concessions, meaning that they cannot farm for subsistence.
“We are happy that some few companies such as Mbada have been giving food handouts in Mukwada and Chiadzwa. But the other companies are not doing the same, something that is a worry to us. We have complained about that and urged them to emulate Mbada.
“We want them to make sure they relocate these families as a matter of urgency because our people cannot keep breathing and sucking dust from the mining activities where they are not getting anything.”
Minister Mushohwe said there was still room for more relocations at Arda Transau and Government was ready to provide more land when asked.
He said some companies were not relocating families because they were on land where mining activities were yet to start. The companies, he said, ignored the fact that those families already lost their fields meaning they could not run sustainable lives.
Minister Mushohwe said another large group of families in Chimanimani and Mutasa, affected by diamond and gold mining, respectively, faced a similar crisis.
However, the diamond mining companies said they were doing theire best to assist the families.
“We have done the greater part of our role in terms of issuing out food handouts and relocations,” said DMC board chair Brigadier-General (Retired) Ezekiel Zabanyana.
“We donated food hampers to 122 families and agric inputs to zunde ramambo. We certainly want to do more to boost our image and that of the Goverment.
“We relocate people on request from the District Administrator or Provincial Administrator. Not all people in our concession are eligible for relocation. All in the pink zone, where mining is on, were relocated. Of late we relocated five on request from the (district administrator).
“I think the minister is referring to other (diamond mining) companies when he says that. In fact, in our concessions we are left with a few people who are yet to be relocated after we relocated some recently.”
Sources said the Lebanese partners in DMC were reneging on some of their commitments. But Rtd Brig-Gen Zabanyana said he was determined to make sure national interests were achieved.
“We are working hard to make sure the company is well structured to respond to the needs of the people and that of the Government. We want to make sure that all the goals that Minister Chidhakwa expects from diamond mining are achieved,” he said.
During Minister Chidhakwa’s maiden tour of the diamond mining companies recently, Rtd Brig-Gen Zabanyana said they were yet to relocate 84 families in Concession E and around 256 in Concession Q.
Marange Resources chief executive officer Mr Obert Dube they were done with relocations and were also giving food handouts.
“We are even prepared to resettle people who are in concessions that we are yet to work on. We are prepared for any relocation because we have houses already.
“We have also been giving assistance to people in our concessions in the form of food and farming inputs,” said Mr Dube.
Mbada Diamonds corporate affairs executive, Mr George Manyaya, said they were working with relocated families in Arda Transau.
“We have invested heavily in education, clean water provision through extensive borehole drilling, food distribution, and programmes that enhance sustainability.
“We are actually expecting another bumper harvest and have made sure that we provide farming inputs in time. The last batch of ammonium nitrate fertiliser was delivered on Christmas Day.
“We partnered with the Zimbabwe Farmers Union to ensure that the relocated families are trained on sustainable farming methods.
“All our efforts are guided by the need to harness diamonds for the people,” he said.
When Ministers Chidhakwa and Mushohwe toured Arda Transau recently, some families complained that diamond mining companies had abandoned them.
They said they were yet to get the electricity they were promised and had adequate agricultural inputs. Efforts to get comments from the other companies were fruitless.