11 April 2013

Zimbabwe: No Compensation for Chiadzwa Families

Photo: Denford Magora
Where has all the money gone?

CHIADZWA families affected by the mining of diamonds in their area are still to get compensation, more than four years after organised extraction of the gems started in Marange.

On average, each household is supposed to get US$40 000 in compensation to pick up the pieces after being relocated but up to now that has not materialised.

This comes as it also emerged this week that the Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA)'s Transau Estate, where families from the diamond fields are being relocated, can no longer cater for 4 000 additional families affected by diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa.

Government is now looking for alternative land outside the district to resettle the 4 000 families.

Manicaland provincial administrator, Fungai Mbetsa, is said to have told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy in Vumba a fortnight ago that diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa were reluctant to implement projects that sustain relocated families' livelihoods and were failing to prioritise social amenities as well as monetarily compensate the relocated families.

This week, the Zimbabwe Environment Law Association (ZELA), weighed in, saying the mining companies were delaying the implementation of an irrigation scheme at ARDA Transau Estate that would provide a sustainable livelihood for the affected families due to lack of consensus on the funding mechanism.

The companies were also said to be taking long to conclude projects such as the refurbishment of Wellington Primary School, yet they were championing other causes outside areas they were operating from namely sponsoring major sporting activities in Harare when owners of the ancestral lands on which they are earning huge profits were suffering.

ZELA said while the legal and policy framework provides for communities to be relocated when minerals are discovered, this must be done in a way that does not negatively impact on the livelihoods of communities.

"The legal position is very clear that communities do now own land. Communal lands where most mining activities take place is state land," said ZELA director, Mutuso Dhliwayo.

"The state has an on obligation to ensure that the eviction of communities and their subsequent relocation when mineral resources like diamonds are found is done in a manner that does not negatively affect their rights before, during and after the process."

The failure by diamond firms to meet their obligations to displaced villagers comes at a time when some of their officials' lives have become a tale of from rags to riches. Some are building up market houses in foreign countries after siphoning profits.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has also said government finances were in a precarious state, with the situation being worsened by failure by the firms to remit all that is due to treasury.

The minister said Anjin, a joint venture between the local and Chinese military was the worst culprit in terms of flouting the country's laws.

"Clearly, we fear as the Ministry of Finance that there might be a parallel government somewhere in respect of where these revenues are going, and are not coming to us. There is opaqueness and unaccountability surrounding our diamonds," said Biti.

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