Villagers in Bikita are bearing the brunt of the Chiadzwa diamond rush which they blame for causing social upheaval in the area.
In interviews chiefs and villagers said the discovery of diamonds in nearby Chiadzwa had caused mass movement of people, which led to the breakdown of many marriages, prostitution and youth delinquency, among other things.
Nyika Growth Point is along the Mutare-Masvingo highway, and about 150 kilometres from the Chiadzwa fields.
At the height of the Chiadzwa diamond rush hordes of people from the area descended on the diamond fields while Nyika was a stop-over for diamond dealers and panners from South Africa, Midlands, Masvingo and the Matabeleland region.
“We had men and women flocking to Chiadzwa to look for diamonds or to sell goods there.
Young girls and young boys also left and the result was that most families were destabilised.
We had some men who, all of a sudden, found themselves with a lot of money and they forgot their families,” said Chief Marozva who lives about 15 kilometres from Nyika.
“At Chiadzwa, it was survival of the fittest and many young girls went into prostitution to get easy money. There was a hive of activity at Nyika Growth Point, with people travelling to and from Chiadzwa and a lot of young girls were prostituting themselves there. Some parents thought their children were at Chiadzwa and yet they were at the business centre.
“A few years from now we will be seeing many wounds caused by the Chiadzwa diamond rush,” said Chief Marozva.
He said the number of divorce cases had shot up dramatically since the Chiadzwa diamonds were discovered while many youths were no longer respecting elders after being exposed to the rough life in the diamond fields.
He said although the police were playing a commendable role in rounding up ladies of the night at Nyika, they were fighting a losing battle partly because of the exposure the youths got during the diamond rush and because the growth point was along a busy highway.
His counterpart, Chief Nerumedzo, said he was worried because many young people had adopted “wayward behaviour” after picking up bad habits from Chiadzwa.
“The diamond rush is over but unfortunately we are living with the consequences. Our young people have turned into drunkards and they have no respect,” he said.
Isaac Nhamo, from the Mukuwe area under Chief Nerumedzo, said it would take time to eradicate the vices of youths who had been to Chiadzwa.
They have turned into animals. They quarrel and are always drunk. The diamonds may have brought people money for a while but they also brought with them many problems,” he said.