A local natura resource government advocacy group has called on the government to address the persistent human rights abuses and grinding poverty in the Marange region.
Marange, known for its diamond fields, was once anticipated to become a catalyst for economic transformation in the surrounding villages and the nation at large, however, nearly two decades later, the situation remains dire, with the local population continuing to suffer from a lack of basic amenities, while human rights violations perpetrated by soldiers persist unchecked.
In a statement, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) called for regular human rights audits, prosecution of perpetrators, and urgent measures to improve the living conditions of the affected communities.
“CNRG is also deeply concerned with the humanitarian crisis at Arda Transau which is apparently abandoned and left to themselves following the relocation that took place between 2009 and 2013. The displaced families have no access to clean, piped water as promised during the displacement. Zimbabwe National Water Authority claims it has no money to buy a stolen transformer to pump the water.
“But the biggest concern with regards to Marange is grinding poverty in a land that produces over 4 million carats annually of which 10% is gem quality. The discovery of the Marange diamond fields in June 2006 was supposed to be a turnaround for the villages around Marange and the nation at large.
“There is no evidence to suggest diamond wealth is contributing to poverty reduction in Marange. 17 years later, soldiers are perpetuating human rights violations unabated. There are cases of forced labour, torture, beatings, and harassment still being heard.
“At the centre of these violations, are women and girls who continue to be abused (sexually and physically) and no reports are made. The Marange Clinic is in an advanced state of dereliction whilst the roads are impassable due to the footprint of heavy mining vehicles. Transport costs to and from Marange have astronomically risen owing to the poor state of the roads,” read the statement.
CNRG urged the government to swiftly address the humanitarian crisis in Arda Transau and also called for the allocation of adequate farming land to the displaced families, emphasizing the urgent need for sustainable livelihoods.
“A large portion of the Arda Transau community now lines up daily, morning and evening, to fetch water one at a time at an unprotected well. This is taking a toll on women who are now spending hours on end queuing for water. They also walk long distances to fetch firewood as the electricity that was promised never materialized.
“Houses built for the displaced families have long developed wide cracks and it’s a question of when they will start collapsing. There is also an acute shortage of land for agriculture. CNRG believes the Arda Transau situation can be addressed if there is a political will to do so. Since the diamond mining firms are still in operation, there is virtually no excuse why the displaced families should find themselves in the current humanitarian crisis.” said CNRG