THE Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), a civil society organisation focused on research and advocacy, says diamond-mining companies in Marange have acted dishonestly by telling the Kimberley Process (KP) plenary meeting that they have been upholding human rights.
After the discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa, Manicaland province, many families were moved off their ancestral land and resettled in the Arda Transau area between 2009 and 2011.
Living conditions have continued to worsen at the resettlement facility — where people who were forcibly moved from the Chiadzwa diamond fields were relocated — with communities failing to access water, while wallowing in poverty, a report by the CNRG has revealed.
Key infrastructure, such as Marange Clinic, has also been continually dilapidating, raising an outcry from watchdogs.
In 2007, the government declared the diamond fields were protected areas under the Protected Places and Areas Act (PPAA) to pave the way for the exploitation of the gems. While promises were made to improve the livelihoods of the resettled families, most of the promises are yet to be fulfilled.
In CNRG’s latest weekly report, executive director Farai Maguwu said huge mining companies — Anjin and the government-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) — have been dishonest by failing to present the true human rights and developmental picture of Marange at this year’s KP plenary held in Victoria Falls in November.
The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme is a multilateral trade regime established in 2003 with the goal of preventing the flow of conflict diamonds in the mineral’s global supply chain.
“The most difficult session was the Frame Seven workshop which was held on Sunday the 5th of November — an attempt at improving human rights in the diamond supply chain. The most shocking testimony came from a man from Chivhu who was reportedly sponsored by one of the companies mining diamonds in Marange to attend the event. He shocked everyone, myself included,” Maguwu said.
“The so-called community representative claimed the government of Zimbabwe was now declaring diamond dividends to the Marange community, a benefit-sharing agreement was now operational and a community concession to be operated by ZCDC has started.”
“ZCDC has managed to create and maintain progressive relations with the community, ” he claimed. One was persuaded to think he was describing some other community in another country, not Marange. ZCDC and Anjin also gave glowing accounts of how their activities were changing the Marange community for the better.”
Maguwu said while the ZCDC has on several occasions promised to revamp Marange, the area has instead remained one of the poorest communities in Zimbabwe, despite being home to massive diamond deposits that have raked in several billions of dollars for the ruling elite.
Zimbabwe, the seventh-largest diamond producer in the world, earned US$424 million in diamond earnings in 2022 from 4.5 million carats, an estimated 7% increase on the previous year.
“In 2020, former ZCDC CEO De Pretto (Roberto) said he was shocked by the level of poverty in Marange: ‘It is disheartening to walk past Chiadzwa, the area is still underdeveloped since 2005 when diamonds were discovered in Marange. It is a shock to me that there is no development despite that Chiadzwa fields have one of the largest diamond deposits in the world, there is no running water, poor roads, while children are walking long distances to go to school’,” Maguwu said, quoting De Pretto.
“Three years on, nothing has changed. CNRG believes it is very possible for government to transform Marange in a manner that is tangible and visible. Our understanding is that it is possible to create a governance model that ensures shared benefits among all stakeholders – mining firms, the community and the government of Zimbabwe.”
Maguwu said Anjin and the ZCDC ought to urgently prioritise creating alternative livelihoods for the people in Marange, amid indications of blighting poverty.
“Alternative livelihoods entail identifying economic opportunities in Marange such as irrigation schemes. This will involve drawing water from the Save River to various villages in Marange and assisting the community set up vibrant irrigation schemes and other projects such as fish farming,” Maguwu said.
“The beauty of such projects is the opportunity for inclusivity and involvement of women. This will lift tens of thousands of people out of poverty as well as improving food nutrition in this drought-stricken district. The Marange Health Centre, also known as Marange Clinic, gives any visitor a perfect reflection of the failure by the government and diamond-mining firms to share the wealth with the people.
“The buildings are dilapidated, and the water and sewer reticulation facilities are now obsolete. So terrible are the staff houses that some occupants use big stones to close the tap. The toilets are a health disaster. Upgrading Marange Clinic is a service that will be greatly appreciated by the community and one whose impact will be felt by tens of thousands of people.”
As previously reported by The NewsHawks, Anjin’s extraction of rough diamonds in Chiadzwa has led to a sharp rise in malaria cases due to poor environmental management practices.
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.
While the company started rehabilitating some of the pits earlier this year after the investigation, it had over the years been leaving large pits, gullies and slime dams many of which are filled with stagnant water, creating a breeding ground for mosquitoes.