HUNDREDS of villagers relocated from Chiadzwa to Arda Transau to pave way for formal diamond mining have reportedly gone for two weeks without water posing a health time bomb in the area.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Arda Transau Development Trust chairman Cephas Gwayagwaya told NewsDay yesterday that the affected section comprised villagers resettled by Anjin. The villagers have never experienced constant services and electricity at the water pumps was recently cut off due to non-payment.
The villagers, most of them unemployed, have resorted to selling firewood after diamond mining companies reneged on their promises to compensate the displaced and start income-generating projects for them.
“We see this as a form of punishment. We haven’t had water since June 30 and people have to walk to Odzi River to get water,” said Gwayagwaya.
“Those relocated by Anjin are the worst affected because the company has not been servicing its arrears prompting service providers to shut us out. As we speak now the clinic and school are not operating well because there is no water.”
He said the villagers would seek an audience with Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene if the matter was not resolved soon.
“Such a situation has affected us a lot. Last year we had a similar incident that later on claimed the life of a minor child who fell into Odzi River as she was trying to fetch water. We now fear there might be an outbreak of diseases,” said Gwayagwaya.
He said villagers would by-pass the district administrator’s offices accusing officials there of lacking urgency to deal with their issues.
However Mutare DA Cosmas Chiringa said efforts were being made to ensure that both Zesa and Anjin find a solution to the problem to ensure the restoration of water supplies.
“We received reports concerning that challenge and I am talking to Anjin so that it pays up the outstanding balance to Zesa. Arrangements are being made now to settle about $13 000 in debts so that water will be reconnected,” said Chiringa.
“I have been also in constant talks with the school and clinic authorities there as well as the residents. Anjin is saying it is winding up in Arda Transau and there will be a handover takeover where the villagers will be expected to pay for themselves. The villagers are well prepared for that as well.”
Shamiso Mtisi, who is Zimbabwe coordinator of the Kimberley Process Civic Society, said the situation at Arda Transau was a direct violation of human rights.
“What is important is that is to realise that our new Constitution talks about the right to clean water.
The government is supposed to take measures to provide people with clean water also in terms of the Water Act and Public Health Act,” said Mtisi who is also head of programmes at the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association.
He said diamond revenue was not being properly managed as companies were prioritising unimportant things at the expense of human life. Mtisi said waterborne diseases could break out in that populous area if the water situation was not resolved as a matter of urgency.