MUTARE — The Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT) has urged the government to address the issue of unfulfilled commitments made by diamond mining companies which relocated villagers from Marange to Odzi.
About 1 000 families from Chiadzwa diamond fields were relocated to Arda Transau in Odzi in 2012, to pave way for mining activities.
ATRDT chairman Cephas Gwayagwaya said the community was concerned that government recently announced plans to merge mining companies in Marange before addressing the issue of the relocated families.
He said ATRDT was aware that mining companies that relocated the villagers like Anjin Investments had either stopped or scaled down mining operations.
Gwayagwaya said Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds were facing serious viability constraints and struggling to pay their workers.
Since 2008, he said, communities at Arda Transau have been grappling with accommodation shortage, unemployment, food insecurity, lack of medical facilities and clean water supplies.
“This come against the backdrop of a rising population with very little effort being made by the mining companies to address these challenges,” Gwayagwaya said.
He said government was failing to provide an irrigation facility to the affected farmers to ensure food security for the community as previously promised.
“The government has been very reluctant over the years to force mining companies to uphold these basic socio-economic rights of families they forcibly removed from Marange without any form of
compensation” he said, adding that the government was prioritising “wanton” resource extraction with little regard for community rights, a constitutional obligation that government was supposed to adhere to.
The Trust’s chairman urged Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa to expeditiously apprise the community on developments in Marange to enable families to claim their rights.
Marange Resources plant manager Prosper Chimunhu said the community had so many expectations from the company.
“As you know, the company is 100% owned by the government. Some procedures and processes take time, but we are working to mitigate the issue,” he said.
Mbada Diamonds last week slashed salaries of its workers by 50%, a sign of the financial difficulties facing the company.
Villagers said Anjin had reneged on promises to provide clean water and food rations.
A serious health hazard is looming at Arda Transau where villagers who were relocated from Chiadzwa by Anjin Investments have been without access to clean water after the Zimbabwe National Water Authority disconnected the company for non-payment.