Anjin begins rehabilitation of Chiadzwa gullies after exposé
THE Environmental Management Agency (Ema) has confirmed that Chinese diamond-mining company Anjin has begun the rehabilitation of deep gullies and slime dams in Chiadzwa which had sparked a malaria crisis in the area.
An investigation by The NewsHawks and Information for Development Trust, under a project meant to support investigative reporting focusing on the accountability and governance of foreign interests and investments in Zimbabwe and Southern Africa, last month revealed that a serious malaria crisis had hit Chiadzwa after Anjin left unrehabilitated pits in the area it is mining.
The pits, which have collected water, are breeding grounds for mosquitos, resulting in a spike in malaria cases among local villagers.
Some of the pits have also become death traps for humans, as people have slipped and died while fishing, while some villagers have committed suicide by drowning themselves in the deep pits.
During the investigation, Ema said it would ensure Anjin rehabilitates the pits to end the crisis.
Ema national spokesperson Amkela Sidange told The NewsHawks this week that Anjin had rehabilitated two hectares of land. The company has secured material to encircle the pits and produced an action plan for the rehabilitation of slime dams.
Sidange said Anjin has also submitted a comprehensive rehabilitation plan for other areas that were affected by degradation because of its mining operations.
“They have secured a fence to put on some pits. Work on rehabilitation of the slimes area is ongoing. So far two hectares have been done. Re-vegetation of the areas to start in June. They have produced an action plan to that effect which the Agency is monitoring,” she said.
Sidange explained that the rehabilitation plan specified how the company intends to rehabilitate damaged areas and the timelines for accomplishing the task.
The rehabilitation includes filling gullies with soil and draining stagnant water.
Shylet Mapindu of Tonhorai Village located in ward 29 of Chiadzwa who contracted malaria two times last year together with her three-year-old son Prosper Mapindu, said she had witnessed the rehabilitation of the slime dams which had enhanced the breeding of mosquitos in the area.
She was one of the villagers quoted by The NewsHawks during the investigation.
“We urge the Chinese company to speed up the process so that all the gullies that are breeding mosquitos can be filled with soil to save us from the mosquito bites,” she said.
Anjin spokesperson Special Matarirano said the company in its rehabilitation plan intends to cover a total of seven hectares. The area is also going to be populated with different fruit trees. Slime dams are continually being fenced. We are aware of the duty to preserve ecosytems and humans,” he said.
“The rehabilitation action plan will cover the hectarage we believe require immediate action on the gullies and it is seven hectares.”
James Mupfumi, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) director, told The NewsHawks that the rehabilitation exercise by Anjin was commendable although short-term methods that directly help in reducing malaria cases are needed.
“The rehabilitation exercise by Anjin in Chiadzwa is commendable, but it will take a long time and so there is need for short-term action to reduce the prevalence of malaria. These may include the company funding health programmes of government in Chiadzwa where malaria cases are still rife. There is also need for the company to fund clinics in the area so that they are able to effectively fight malaria cases there.
“The company could also consider distributing mosquito nets to the local community. These interventions will have short-term impact on the health crisis of malaria,” he said.
Anjin Diamond Company is a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC) and Matt Bronze, an investment vehicle controlled by Zimbabwe’s military.
The firm began operating in Chiadzwa in 2010, but was ordered to shut down in 2016 when the government ceased the operations of all diamond companies in the area after the then president Robert Mugabe claimed there were serious leakages of the gems amounting to US$15 billion.
The ban led to the establishment of the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), which then took over operations.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over leadership of the country following a military coup in November 2017, he lifted the ban on Anjin’s operations, resulting in the company resuming full-scale diamond mining in Marange with an initial investment of US$38 million in 2019.