The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT) Wednesday said massive siltation and pollution of rivers due to activities of illegal diamond panners was causing shortage of water in Chiadzwa.
The spokesperson of the CCDT, Lovemore Mukwada, who was speaking in an interview at the sidelines of the African Initiative on Mining, Environment and Society workshop, yesterday said diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa were also insensitive to needs of the community.
“Since illegal diamond panners descended on Chiadzwa, there has been serious siltation of rivers and dams,” said Mukwada.
“Water seems no longer safe and we need information on whether it is still safe to drink. There is also a lot of air pollution by the companies extracting diamonds in Chiadzwa,” said Mudwada. He said the Chiadzwa community was very unhappy plans by one of the diamond mining companies to construct a dam at a cemetery.
A councillor from Chiadzwa, Mukwada Ward 29, Tichafara Kusena said there was also lack of consultation by mining companies whenever they undertook corporate social responsibility programmes.
“These companies give us what they want and they do not try to find out our needs. There was a time when they donated exercise books to schoolchildren when the community actually wanted textbooks, which would have provided solutions to educational needs,” said Kusena.
A representative from Ghana, Richard Akuffour from the National Coalition of Mines said Africa had common problems where communities in mining areas were affected by relocations which have caused destruction of property and cultural heritage.
“Mining companies give them very little compensation and they employed the police and the militia to ill-treat communities and deprive them of their rights instead.
In Ghana we have helped communities by forming a coalition whereby they send their petitions and we also organise the media to make sure they report brutalities on mining communities,” Akuffour said.
An environmental lawyer with Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Gilbert Makore, said some of the mining companies took advantage of the unfortunate fact most communities were illiterate rural people who did not know their rights.