Government resumes Chiadzwa relocations
MUTARE — Government has resumed the relocation of villagers residing in Chiadzwa to Arda Transau Resettlement Area as it moves to secure the vast diamond concession.
The exercise is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Mines through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Government is relocating all families residing in a concession previously owned by Diamond Mining Company (DMC) while awaiting court processes to finalise pending cases involving other miners that were kicked out of Chiadzwa early this year.
The villagers will receive maize and beans to carry them to the next harvesting season as well as US$1 000 to cater for miscellaneous expenses.
Arda Transau, which measures 12 000 hectares, has capacity to accommodate only 1 800 of the 4 300 families in the Chiadzwa diamond concession.
Close to 1 000 villagers have been relocated from the Chiadzwa fields since 2010.
Anjin relocated 466 families while Jinan Mining moved 129 families.
Mbada Diamonds resettled 102 families while Marange Resources and DMC moved 44 and 40 households respectively, according to 2014 figures.
The relocation had stopped following the reluctance by the former Chiadzwa diamond companies to fund the exercise.
The situation had exposed those residing in the concession to a hazardous environment prone to lung infections from the dust they were continuously exposed to as well as malaria outbreaks caused by water settling in alluvial mining pits, which have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes during rainy seasons.
Mines Minister, Walter Chidhakwa, who recently toured Arda Transau, said government was resuming the relocation exercise to secure the fields as well as provide a habitable environment for the villagers.
He said there were currently 71 houses that had been constructed and 35 that were at various stages of construction.
“There are villagers who are still living in Chiadzwa and it is imperative for us as government to make sure that they are relocated, not only as a security measure but as a matter of prioritising the welfare of our people. We need to remind them that we have not forgotten them by making sure that they are awarded decent accommodation,” he said.
Chidhakwa said government, through ZCDC, was now responsible for the relocation after kicking out the previous claim holders from the vast diamond concession after their licenses expired.
“We will start with villagers under DMC despite the fact that they have initially relocated few people than anticipated. Anjin and Mbada villagers should have been relocated first but we are still waiting for the court outcome since they took us to court,” said Chidhakwa.
“But what is clear is that the process will begin immediately. We will make sure that each household is given maize and beans that will last them until the next season. They will also get US$1 000 for them to settle in Arda,” he added.
The Mines Minister was, however, not pleased with the state of the newly-built houses and those already occupied, which are substandard.
Chidhakwa tasked ZCDC to evaluate the number of the sub-standard houses before government summons the contractors.
“It’s clear that the job was hurriedly done; some of the houses that have just been built and yet to be occupied are already developing cracks. We will have ZCDC to look into it but what is also clear is that whoever did the job was paid in full but short-changed us.
“So, as government, we will simply look for the contractors and ask them to show us the houses they built, and answer for that.
“We can’t just let them go,” he said.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, Francis Gudyanga, who accompanied Chidhakwa on the tour, did not mince his words and boldly declared that job done was “a total rip off”.
Arda Transau villagers have over the years raised concern over the poor standard of the houses. The walls and floors of the houses have been cracking, posing a threat to dwellers.
Several reports have indicated that rooftops succumbed to storms on numerous occasions.
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