Arda Transau villagers make demands as mining companies continue neglect

The Arda Transau resettlement area is turning into a ticking time bomb as disgruntled villagers lament the diamond mines in Chiadzwa, claiming the extraction continues to benefit outsiders, while their welfare remains in the doldrums.

Villagers believe their relocation to Arda Transau has killed their self-reliance and caused a dependence on hand-outs from the mining firms.

The Arda Transau area is comprised mainly of villagers relocated by Anjin Investments, Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds, and Diamond Mining Company. Anjin has relocated 474 families, while Mbada and Marange have transferred 400 households and 121 families, respectively. DMC has not yet relocated any villagers.

The diamond companies are still to relocate another 4,300 families, but the process has been hampered as Arda, which measures about 14,000 hectares, can only accommodate 1,800.

The resettled families have accused the diamond mining companies on prioritizing mining over their welfare.

Under a memorandum between diamond firms and the government, each company is supposed to build a primary and secondary school and clinic and provide clean water and income generating projects.

Of all the companies, only Anjin has constructed the schools and clinic, greatly compromising the educational and health standards of almost 1,000 villagers in Arda all currently using the Anjin facilities.

The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that most of the villagers are jobless, as they are not employed by the diamond firms and have no means of sustainable income.

Many solely depend on small donations from the companies, which only target a few households.

Anjin villagers said they last received food rations last year in October and have been living on hand to mouth since.

Chairperson for villagers resettled under Anjin at Arda Transau, Timothy Ndamera, said, “Villagers cannot embark on any meaningful livelihood sustenance project because there is no water and they have no money [due to unemployment].”

“We have petitioned the relevant authorities to empower us with income generating projects so that we can be self-reliant,” said Ndamera.

Mutare District Administrator, Cosmas Chiringa, confirmed that the villagers resettled under Anjin had petitioned their office to seek redress over pending issues including non-supply of food rations and income generating programs.

Anjin however defended their position saying they had done enough as per their agreement with government and what was left was not their responsibility.

“Which contracts stipulate that we should do everything? We have done enough and what is left is for government and villagers to finish,” said Anjin spokesperson, Retired Brigadier General, Munyaradzi Matyatya.

Manicaland Governor, Chris Mushohwe, defended the villagers, warning that locals were growing impatient and encouraged the firm to do its duty. “The mining company has not done enough in terms of corporate social responsibility. They must do more…Our patience is now being strained,” said Mushohwe.

Mbada Diamonds has since fast-tracked income generating projects in its area to avoid facing the same rising tensions cited in the other two resettlement areas.

MD corporative services executive, George Manyaya, said they are currently implementing more income generating projects, like the preexisting $188,000 chicken raring project.

Manyaya said the villagers are covered since MD will be their chief market. Meanwhile, the Manicaland Business Action Group, has been lobbying government and diamond firms to avail employment at their mines to locals.

Governor Mushohwe has also been on the forefront of the issue, lamenting that diamond companies were employing outsiders while the people of Marange remain jobless.

Post published in: News

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