Zimbabwe: Gem Miners Leave Marange Worse Off – by Obey Manayiti (All Africa.com – February 28, 2016)


VILLAGERS in areas surrounding the diamond-rich Marange area say mining companies destroyed their livelihoods and left them in poverty that has been worsened by the El Niño-induced drought ravaging the country.

Marange and its surroundings areas are in natural region five, which is characterised by low rainfall and only a few drought resistant crops can survive the extreme weather conditions.

The plight of the communities has been worsened by unsustainable mining operations by diamond companies, which have largely contributed to serious water pollution in Save and other small rivers.

Pollution has severely affected supplementary projects for villagers like gardening, fishing and livestock production.

Last week Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa ordered all the nine mining companies to cease their operations and prepare to leave the area in three months following disagreements on how they will constitute the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.

As a result, hundreds of people have since started trooping to Marange and the locals said they would rather mine the diamonds themselves than continue in a situation where investors extract the precious stones without ploughing back to the community.

This paper visited different communities where the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela) was handing over boreholes to avert the worsening water problems.

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