The Diamonds of Marange, Zimbabwe
Presentation by Tapuwa O’bren Nhachi from the Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG)
The inhabitants of Marange believe their village would be a better place to live in had it not been for the discovery of enormous deposits of alluvial diamonds in 2006, believed to constitute approximately 25% of the world’s known deposits.
The first major challenge was the unannounced invasion of Marange by tens of thousands of artisanal miners, merchants and dealers who did not submit to the local traditional leaders, culture and lifestyle. Conflict between Marange habitants and “Outsiders ” ensued.
Challenges encountered included widespread violence among the panners and the dealers. Rape, murder and armed robberies became the order of the day. The level of lawlessness and violence brought by the diamond rush had never been experienced before in Marange.
November 2008 added another twist to the unfolding drama in Marange when the Zimbabwe National Army was deployed to drive out the artisanal miners and dealers as the state moved in to take full control of the lucrative diamond fields. There was a massacre of artisanal miners and villagers and hundreds of villagers fled their traditional homes to take refuge in cities.
Over 200 miners were gunned down within a spate of five weeks and the exact figure of those killed will never be known. Traditional leaders were helpless as their authority was overridden by the state.
In 2009 the Government announced that it was going to forcibly relocate over 4 000 families from Marange to Arda Transau, a government farm located about 40km north of Marange. Whilst decent houses have been constructed for some of the relocated families, concern has been raised over the lack of adequate land for cultivation and pastures, given that the relocated families are subsistence farmers. Over 2000 people have so far been relocated to Arda Transau and over 25 000 thousand await their fate.
Among the challenges faced by some of the relocated people are: loss of livelihoods (cattle, water and grazing land); inadequate basic needs; change of lifestyle and; confict.
Consolidation of Diamond Mines
Having realised that there is nothing tangible coming from Chiadzwa, Government stopped all diamond mining. Some 15bn dollars was reported missing (allegedly). All companies were removed. The questions and challenges arising from these developments include: the fate of employees, the resulting demaged environment; compensation for relocated families and; the lost revenue from the whole operation.
The are still several other challenges emerging too.
The Save River is heavily contaminated ‘to such an extent that communities cannot use the water for drinking purposes anymore whilst coming into contact with the water and mud cause an itching of the skin‘ (CNRG Report 2015).
The water turbid or muddy due to discharge from the Anjin plant. There has also been a loss of animal and plant life. There exists a possibility too of cancer due to a heavy presence of chromium and nickel in the river.
Villagers fear a rise in cases of diseases such as Tuberculosis due to dust inhalation. Due to other mining activities huge earth movers would make their way through homesteads, raising clouds of dust and impairing our vision momentarily.
Militarisation of Diamonds Fields
There has been growing concern about the increased involvement of the Zimbabwe National Army in diamond mining activities. Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed at a conference hosted by Center for Natural Resource Governance in May 2012 that Anjin Investments was in partnership with the Zimbabwe National Army and not with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)
The army and fellow state security agents have been involved in illegal digging with artisanal miners whom they charge ‘protection fees’ in the form of both money and diamonds.
Conflict and Environmental Degradation
Little is said about the impacts of conflict on the environment and how environmental degradation will affect human life. Nevertheless, the negative impacts of conflict on the environment will in the long run impact the body count as more people will succumb to the effects of pollution. Basically, the inability of the environment to sustain life
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