We can’t eat shares: desperate Marange folk

“For me the best place to go right now is a prison cell,” says 50-year-old father of six, Malvern Mudiwa.

Minister of Youth Empowerment, Indigenisation and Employment Creation, Savior Kasukuwere.
Minister of Youth Empowerment, Indigenisation and Employment Creation, Savior Kasukuwere.

“They just came and told us to go away from our homesteads. We did not have any plans for the future and we have never benefited from the diamonds in our home area.” This is the untold story of the people from the diamond-rich Marange Province, said to have billions of dollars stashed underground in the form of diamonds.

Residents in the area were forced to leave their homes in order to make way for mining operations, but they were only given $1 000 as a relocation allowance from the government.

Mudiwa said residents were forced to leave without even being given a chance to find out where they were being relocated to. “I have lost all my savings and cannot begin life again at 50. I need to know what will happen to my parents’ graves because we buried them here in Chiadzwa. How will they address the issue of graves? This is very important to us and our children, who will grow up not knowing their history.

The diamond rush began in 2006 and people flocked to their region in search of riches.

“To me the diamonds came as a curse because it deprived us of everything, including our dignity,” he said. “Now we have to sell our sheep and goats in order to survive but the government is benefiting from the diamonds.”

Mudiwa said there were only two schools in the area and children were getting their lessons in tobacco barns built by commercial farmers who have also been kicked out of the area.

“The schools are not enough,” he said.”They are talking about improvement but we are not seeing anything. These people come from Harare to tell us what to do but they do not consult us. They just talk about shares here – but we do not eat shares.

“People employed in the mines are not from here but from Gweru, Bulawayo, Harare and as far as Victoria Falls and even Bindura. Right now about 80 people from here have been retrenched and are unemployed – but we are supposed to be benefiting from the diamonds found here.”

He said last year the residents were told not to plant any crops because they could be moved again at anytime.

“We were told to stop cultivating and right now we do not have any crops and so are starving here in the new area,” he said.

“They just told us that next year we could be asked to leave. They also talk about Corporate Social Responsibility but this is complete nonsense because we are not benefiting.The health system is dilapidated and there is HIV/Aids, cholera and many other diseases here,” he said.

“Roads are also bad but they talk about good roads that will be built. We only heard about Dynamos Football Club from Harare being given millions of dollars but we get nothing and this is unfair.”

Dynamos are last year’s Premier Soccer League National Champions and are being sponsored by Mbada Diamonds, one of the four companies mining in the area.

Share ownership trust launched

The Marange/Zimunya communities have agreed to form a Community Share Ownership Trust to benefit from diamonds found in their region. Announcing the Trust, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Indigenisation and Employment Creation, Savior Kasukuwere, said it would help empower the community.

The area is awash with diamonds, bringing in more than $600 million annually according to conservative estimates from the Ministry of Finance.

Kasukuwere said at least 50 percent ownership of the Trust would be set aside for villagers.

“Money for government salaries is coming from Marange,” Kasukuwere said. “So they must also benefit from their money.”

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