PANIC has gripped Chiadzwa as families and workers fear a bleak future in the diamond-rich area after government ceased operations of nine diamond companies following their failure to renew their licences in negotiations that lasted seven months.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI
Workers at various mining concerns were shocked on Monday after they were told to stop operating the plants, while security guards manning the area were stripped of the duties by Zimbabwe Republic Police, who were in the presence of Mines and Mining Development ministry officials.
Workers who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said they had not been anticipating the unilateral move by government.
Villagers feared a Chinese Diamond mining company, Jinan, would no longer be in a position to fully compensate 63 families who recently exhumed the remains of their relatives from the mining fields and reburied them elsewhere.
The villagers were expected to get $300 as compensation per grave, but had only received $100.
Upfumi Hwepasi Kuvatema president Mathew Mundondo, who has been helping Jinan distribute the money, said both workers and management were in a state of shock.
“The workers were surprised and even the management was caught off guard. They (Mines ministry officials) came to Jinan just after lunch and ordered them to stop operating the plant. They were in the company of the Zimbabwe Republic Police,’’ he said.
Workers at other diamond mining companies feared losing their jobs.
“We were told to go to our bases. We fear losing our salaries and packages because we don’t know what is going to happen,’’ one of them said.
Government has been working towards establishing the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, which will see all diamond mining companies operating as one entity.
Marange Pressure Group B-Mend secretary-general Farai Kushata said the government should prioritise the plight of the workers and villagers.