HUNDREDS of villagers who were displaced from their original homes in Chiadzwa in February 2011 to pave way for diamond mining by a Chinese company, Anjin Investments, are facing acute food shortages as the company has stopped supplying them with food handouts.
REPORT BY STAFF REPORTER
The company had initially pledged to continue providing relief food every four months, but stopped doing so in October last year.
The villagers told NewsDay over the weekend that they were now surviving on selling firewood to businesspeople at the nearby townships to raise money to buy food.
Contacted for comment, Anjin’s deputy general manager Getrude Takawira said her company was no longer able to provide food handouts due to cashflow problems.
She, however, said the company last provided the villagers with food handouts in May this year. “The company is going through serious cashflow shortages, but we are trying to encourage them to do irrigation. We will be there for them,” Takawira said.
“We have 471 families relocated to Arda Transau and the infrastructure we put there includes that for water supply and we fund the chemicals used. We were supposed to have completed an irrigation scheme. We were trying to build sustainability and that is why we gave them water and they have land. We should all try to build sustainability.”
The affected villagers who were moved to Arda Transau accused the Chinese-owned diamond mining company, which is in a joint venture with the government, of reducing them to destitutes.
Their spokesperson Cephas Gwayagwaya claimed: “We were last given food in October last year. We were supposed to receive food quarterly. Other companies are doing that to villagers.”
“As a result people are now surviving on selling firewood to residents in Odzi. We are forced to wake up early in the morning to find the firewood and then sell it for a paltry $1 a bundle.
“The money that we are getting is not enough. We walk for long distances to get customers.
“We paved way for mining and the investors are getting a lot of money yet we are living in abject poverty. We want to meet the President (Robert Mugabe) because we suspect that he is being given wrong information about our wellbeing,” said Gwayagwaya.