VILLAGERS in Chiadzwa are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel following some positive initiatives by the new diamond mining company the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) that has already started its mining operations.
This came out during a Zimbabwe Environment Law Association workshop for community monitors held on April 21 in Mutare , where community monitors commended ZCDC for its positive strides in considering employment of locals and water pollution concerns.
Chiadzwa villagers from the mining areas have in the past complained that they had not benefited in any way from the discovery of the diamonds. The previous mining companies did not fulfil their promises to fund the Community Share Ownership Trust and other community developmental projects.
ARDA Transau Development Trust community monitors said people were relocated to ARDA Transau to pave way for mining operations with promises of provision of satisfactory compensation, housing, schools and healthcare facilities, most of which have not been met.
The coming in of ZCDC is however being viewed as a positive by a number of villagers after the mining company has been recently seen undoing the previous wrong by employing locals at the mine and constructing slime dams to avoid polluting Save River.
However those relocated at Arda Transau called for the new company to look into the food shortages due to drought
‘’The Ministry of Social Welfare has been distributing food but there has been discrimination on mainly the elderly. Every citizen has a right to sufficient food according to the constitution Chapter 4 Section 77. The other issue is on water where we have to pay $6 for water and $2 for electricity every month. For most of us it is unattainable. Most elderly people have already been cut off due to non payment” said one of the villagers Mrs Gwaigwai.
”Also in my case i am still to receive the house that I was promised and the issue is now at the resident Ministers office. Cases of theft and robbery have been on the increase in the area because of hunger. On 18 April a businessman in the area was robbed of $400 and severely beaten up,’’ she said.
Malvern Mudiwa from the Marange Development Trust added that apart from the promising positives by ZCDC of concern is the ongoing harassment of villagers by State agents regardless of them having produced identification.
‘’As a result even when one is going to the shops you fear for your life. An ID is no longer a guarantee of your safety. Fungai Ziduche was beaten up by the police and he now needs constant medical attention and his medical report shows he will not be able to have children anymore. There was another incident of a boy who was beaten to death but the parents were told he fell on a stone,’’ said Mudiwa.
The community monitors said previous mining companies had overlooked a lot of developmental concerns which should be redressed by the ZCDC. These are some of the concerns highlighted:
Right to education
The community monitors also found out that the right to education is being infringed. At schools like Gonora only one classroom block is being used to shelter Form 1 to form 4 with each classroom accommodating two levels and overcrowded. At another school there is one teacher’s house which is five roomed accommodating eight teachers of which some have to share. Some of the teachers stay at the headmaster’s rural home nearby. There is also no safe water to drink and students do not have textbooks.
At Mavhiza Primary School there is no roofing on the classrooms. The area has two boreholes servicing over 200 families. Most families still resort to drinking water from Odzi River despite the health implications. At some schools lessons are done under trees. At Chikanga Primary School the textbook ratio is 8:1 and there is a shortage of teachers whilst the Grade One class is taught by an unqualified teacher.
Right to healthcare
According to Dorcas Chiadzwa at Chiadzwa Clinic they close at 4pm and only emergencies are catered for after 4pm, which was unacceptable. There is a waiting mother’s shelter lying idle forcing pregnant women to travel to Marange clinic which is far away.
Cultural and moral decadence
Drug abuse is now rampant in Chiadzwa by youths after they get a bit of money. Moral decadences is also now increasing. There has also been an increase in child marriages and school drop outs.
In the Gonora and Mafurere area there is now rampant cutting down of trees by locals for charcoal and firewood .
Villagers said they still expect that ZCDC do what the previous companies promised them but failed
to do. They expect gender issues to also be considered where possible when employing at the mines.
They expect ZCDC to develop infrastructure in surrounding communities including roads, schools and healthcare centres.
They said community development trusts must be independent of political interferences to ensure accountability, whilst ZCDC must publish what they pay out and do for communities for transparency.