REPRESENTATIVES of people from Marange yesterday told Parliament that diamonds in their area were now a curse instead of a blessing, as they suffered different forms of abuse, beatings, displacements, air pollution, environmental degradation and poverty in their area.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chairperson of the Marange Development Trust, Malvern Mudiwa and some of his members appeared before the Temba Mliswa-led Mines and Energy Portfolio Committee, where they told MPs that the current miners Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) were worse than previous miners as they mined without an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and had not done anything for the community.
“After the discovery of diamonds in Marange, people were relocated without consultations and no compensation has been paid to date despite that people were promised $1 000 and three months’ supply of food,” Mudiwa said.
“People are now suffering from issues of water pollution, deep gullies that are left open, pollution where blasting is done 50 metres away from homesteads, graves and sacred places being desecrated, and there is high unemployment and nowhere to farm,” he said.
Youth representative from the Marange Development Trust, Letwin Muchena, said the youth never benefitted from employment opportunities, adding that Chiadzwa was one of the poorest areas in Zimbabwe despite it being diamond rich.
“In 2016, a kid fell into a gully and there was no compensation. We feel that diamonds are now a curse to Marange because we are facing a lot of challenges due to them because people are being beaten up and the youths are unemployed,” Muchena said.
Mudiwa said there were a lot of human rights abuses in Marange after different mining companies and ZCDC took over mining, which included people bitten by dogs, some people shot, beatings by security personnel manning the area. One man lost his manhood after being beaten up on his testicles. They were even health hazards such as drinking water from open pits due to water shortages in the area.
Beulla Mawoyo, a member of the Marange Development Trust, painted a very gloomy picture of how mining companies had failed to protect community interests in Marange.
“The just told people that whether they like it or not they will be relocated to Arda Transau and yet they had not put up enough infrastructure for our livestock, water points and dips. People ended up resorting to fetching water from the deep pits left by mining companies and were exposed to waterborne diseases. Guards at the mines severely beat up people leaving them for dead,” Mawoyo said.
Mudiwa said the residence permit system in Marange must be revised to annually as renewing them monthly was costly for resident.
He also claimed that he had seen truckloads transporting illegal diamonds in Marange.