Report says relocated Marange communities starving

Villagers from Marange who were relocated to Arda Transau to make way for diamond mining activities face limited livelihood opportunities and most of them and their children are undernourished, with some of them showing clinical signs of kwashiorkor, a research by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance has established.

Conducted between May and November 2013 in partnership with the Heinrich Boll Foundation, the study, entitled “Marange relocations lead to new poverty”, says apart from tilling the 70 x 70 metres of land allocated to each family, households without employed persons have been the hardest hit and are surviving by selling off their livestock.

Says the report: “The communities’ livestock have run out and they were depending on food handouts from diamond companies, which they have not received in the last 12 months. Malnutrition is affecting adult people at the new settlement and some villagers are going for days without eating anything.”

In an interview with the CNRG, a 92 year-old-man said his family was going for days without food and they survived on eating salt-spiced anthill soil and a cup of water.

According to the study, most families who were relocated were worse off than what they were back in Marange, particularly in female- headed households.

“Alternative forms of employment in the new area are very slim because the capacity for the nearby farms to provide employment are limited,” read the report.

It added: “The farms which used to employ many women and men before the fast track land reform program are operating below capacity.”

The study noted that mines in Marange employed few locals since most of the recruitment was done in Harare.

“It has been particularly worse for women who are deliberately discriminated against on the basis of gender.

“Due to corruption and lack of firm policy to employ locals, some senior managers practice nepotism and tribalism when recruiting employees, resulting in the Marange residents being overlooked,” read the report.

Minister of State for Manicaland Province, Chris Mushohwe, is on record calling on mining companies in Marange to give first preference to locals when employing general labour to no avail.

“These companies fear that if they employ locals, they will connive and steal from the companies. But we are not thieves we also want employment and benefit from our diamonds,” one 25-years-old man from Arda Transau told CNRG in an interview.

The survey established that there was a loss of livelihoods for youths at Arda Transau, who in the past engaged in income generating initiatives such as catching wild birds for resale, fishing and market gardening from Save river.

“There is an aura of fear and insecurity among the relocated Marange community and there is no open dialogue about what happened, how it happened and what can be done to rectify the situation,” read the report.

The CNRG recommended that government should prioritise the Marange communities on the allocation of land in the land reform program

“Government through the lands, environment, mines and energy, indigenisation, finance, women’s affairs and health and child care ministries should set up an inter-ministerial task force to urgently deal with the problems confronting the relocated families in Marange.”

The CNRG called on government to conduct a land audit and ensure that those holding multiple farms in Manicaland relinquish those farms and share with the landless Marange villagers.

It urged government to come up with a clear policy on mining induced displacements and relocations arguing that all mining contracts should be clear on relocations and these should satisfy the provisions of the Vancouver Declaration on human settlements.

“Mining firms should move a step ahead and empower communities through other projects which include piggery, cattle fattening and horticulture to ensure that the villagers are economically empowered.However, for the projects to succeed, there is need for the government and companies to first avail courses like project management, finance and business management so that the relocated villagers have knowledge on how to run these projects,” read the report.

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