SW Radio Africa (London)

7 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Govt Urged to Assist Villagers Affected By Chiadzwa Diamond Mining

The government has once again been called on to intervene in a worsening situation facing villagers in the Marange region, where diamond mining operations have affected thousands of families.

More than 4000 families from the Chiadzwa area are understood to be facing increased food insecurity, including more than 1000 who were relocated to the Government provided Arda Transau plot of land.

That relocation four years ago paved the way for mining operations, with an agreement that the mining firms would pay for new houses and other amenities for the affected villagers.

But this agreement has not been fully honoured and the families at Arda Transau have faced worsening hunger, with no access to crop growing facilities or other necessities. Food relief packages that were meant to be provided have also stopped, and the situation there has been described as "critical."

At the same time, about 3000 families that remain near the mining operations are also reportedly in crisis. According to the Herald newspaper these families also face hunger after their farmland was allegedly barricaded by mining firms.

James Mupfumi, the Acting Director of the Marange based Centre for Research and Development (CRD) said Tuesday that situation is "appalling." He told SW Radio Africa that the chief concern is the lack of access to food.

"It's really bad. People at Arda Transau can't grow crops because everything they were promised has not been delivered. And then the people earmarked for relocation have been told not to grow crops either," Mupfumi said.

He urged the government to take responsibility for the situation, because it is a joint partner in the mining firms operating in Chiadzwa.

"It is a matter of revenue. The revenue from the diamond mining is not going to government to help the villagers, instead it is benefitting some individuals. So we would have expected the government to stop the mining there, and review the contracts so that revenue transparency and other issues could be dealt with," Mupfumi said.

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