Mutare — Paramount Chief Marange has blasted the government owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) of imposing corporate social responsibility programmes on the community who continue to live in abject poverty despite sitting on top of the precious stones.
Speaking to delegates at the annual all stakeholders Diamond Indaba held in Mutare yesterday, Chief Marange accused ZCDC of failing to provide tangible employment opportunities for locals as well as imposing corporate social responsibility programs on the community.
"As a community, we didn't know about diamonds until they were found in our area but we are still living in poverty, we are suffering and we hope that the board will hear our pleas that we have continuously expressed.
"We have a hospital build as long back as 1940 and our expectation was that this would be upgraded because diamonds were found in our backyard, yet that clinic as we speak does not have toilets.
Chiefs court constructed by ZCDC
"We do not have access to clean water, we have no dams and boreholes, people are struggling to make ends meet yet diamonds are being extracted right under our nose by people employed from other areas yet our children are unemployed," he said.
Manicaland Minister of State Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba also acknowledged the concerns of Chief Marange, saying it was a paradox that villagers lived in squalid conditions in the midst of plenty.
"For some issues brought in by the community I have had discussions with them on the issue of employment, young people are desperate for employment and we urge ZCDC to practice good recruitment practices.
"In this era of devolution, we are saying locals should benefit not that we are excluding the nation but we expect local people to be employed for jobs that are not technical," said Gwaradzimba.
Gwaradzimba urged ZCDC to address environmental legacy issues inherited from former mining companies that were posing a threat to both human and livestock.
"If communities are suffering and livestock is perishing due to effects of mercury and cyanide, and water is contaminated in rivers by from mining activities without consummate benefit, this shows lack of leadership and good governance," said Gwaradzimba.
"ARDA Transau has been a thorny issue in my office people are threatening to come and do some press ups at my offices, and I think the model of relocation did not provide for the sustenance of those people," she added.