Civil society slams Marange mines merger

Civil society groups in Mutare are deeply concerned about the arbitrary decision taken by the government to order mineral companies in Chiadzwa to merge.

Chidhakwa
Chidhakwa

As a way for the state to centralise before instituting independent audits on all mining operations and addressing human rights abuses.

According to the minister of Mines, Walter Chidhakwa, the seven mining companies operating in Chiadzwa diamond fields will merge next month under a two-phase programme. Government claims this will optimise earnings by cutting the long chain of players extracting the precious gems.

The first stage will see Marange Resources, Gye Nyame and Kusena Diamonds formed into a single portfolio. The second a stage will see Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Corporation amalgamated.

In an interview with The Zimbabwean this week, James Mupfumi the acting director of Centre for Research and Development (CRD), said diamonds were a limited resource and the structure of ownership and control in Chiadzwa demanded speedy and wise reform.

“We are deeply concerned that prior to the merger, government has not instituted independent audits on all mining operations where it is a major shareholder,” he said, adding that an audit was critical if transparency and accountability was to be of priority to government.

“It is in the public domain that an audit was carried out at Marange Resources but sadly the minister of mines has not disclosed the findings,” said Mupfumi.

Freeman Bhoso, the Director of Zimbabwe Natural Resource Dialogue Forum (ZNRDF), said reforms in the diamond sector should be a well thought-out process. He said civil society was saddened by Chidhakwa’s failure to institute a consultative forum for all stakeholders in which the legitimate submission of the forcibly removed and uncompensated people of Marange would have been tabled and considered in the proposed new structures.

“The companies have not honoured their pledges and government is complicit in disregarding the legitimate expectations of the people of Chiadzwa. Nothing in the ongoing reforms spells out progress in addressing the needs of the displaced.”

He said the Chiadzwa share ownership trust had been a sham, with very little getting into the hands of the beneficiaries.

A local NGO, Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT), has said the Zanu (PF) government has failed to come up with a comprehensive strategy to address the unfulfilled commitments made by t mining companies that relocated villagers from Marange to ARDA Transau.

Cephas Gwayagwaya, the chairman of the trust, said no consultations had been made with the community at Arda Transau over the issues affecting them.

He said the NGO was aware that several mining companies that relocated the villagers like Anjin Investments have either stopped or scaled down mining operations, while Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds were facing serious viability constrains and struggling to pay their workers.

“Since 2008, communities at Arda Transau have been grappling with accommodation shortages, unemployment, food insecurity, lack of medical facilities and clean water supplies, electricity and deteriorating educational facilities against a rising population with very little efforts made by the mining companies to address these challenges,” Gwayagwaya said.

“The government has been very reluctant over the years to force mining companies to uphold these basic socio-economic rights of families they forcibly removed from Marange without any form of compensation to pave way for the mining,” he said.

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