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Families given 10 days to vacate diamond field

FORTY families from the Chiadzwa diamond fields and Mukwada villages in Manicaland have been given a 10-day notice to leave their homes and make way for Mbada Diamonds without compensation.

The villagers were given the notice on Wednesday by the District Administrator’s office and are expected to relocate to Arda Transau by September 4.
Mutare West MP Shua Mudiwa yesterday confirmed the eviction.
“I have received a report of the relocation. Right now I cannot give you much detail because I am at a Copac meeting. I will get to the bottom of it,” he said.
Mudiwa said the villagers were promised groceries and school fees for the next term by Mbada Diamonds.
“There was no written agreement, it was just verbal. They were told that if anyone wanted further explanations they should go to the provincial or district administrator or the governor.”
Manicaland provincial governor, Christopher Mushowe, is on record as saying the villagers would only be compensated after the relocations.
Acting President of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT), an organisation that represents Chiadzwa villagers, Malvern Mudiwa, told Zimbabwe Independent that villagers from Chiadzwa and Mukwada were not happy with the way the relocation was being handled by the mining companies and the government.
Mudiwa said: “The villagers are angry that the government is not consulting them in these relocations. This time 22 villagers from Chiadzwa ward and 22 from Mukwada ward are being relocated by Mbada (Diamonds). Last Saturday they were told that they should gather for a meeting at Zengeni shops for an explanation but when they arrived for the meeting there was a bus waiting to ferry them to Arda Transau so that they can have a look at the temporary structures set up for them there.”
“No compensation issues were discussed despite people requesting for concrete written compensation agreements with the mining companies. They also want to benefit from the diamonds and not be dumped on some useless land. They want employment guaranteed for their children since they were affected by the relocation.”
CCDT also claimed that some villagers were complaining about the way they were being treated by Chinese company Anjin in the area when they went to seek employment.
Shamiso Mtisi of Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) said the government and mining companies should seriously consider providing villagers with adequate shelter, compensation, social services and give them adequate notice before they are moved.
“We are not happy with the issue of this notice. There is inadequate time in their notices and the compensation issues will not have been agreed on. It doesn’t make sense. We are not in disagreement about the relocation but the manner in which it is done.”  
“We are trying to engage the relevant government departments to respect the rights of the people of Chiadzwa but it is very difficult,” he said.
Mbada Diamonds chairman Robert Mhlanga could not be reached for comment. However, earlier this month the Independent reported that families relocated from Chiadzwa were dumped at an abandoned farmhouse where a number of families affected by the relocation were living in disused tobacco barns.

 

Wongai Zhangazha

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