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Community monitoring project empowers relocated villagers

We no longer speculate or spread rumors,” says, Malvern Mudiwa, in reference to a reporting toolkit enabling community monitors to provide authentic information on service delivery issues.

Mudiwa, chair of Marange Development Trust, a trust representing interests of families relocated from Chiadzwa diamond fields, says adoption of this reporting mechanism provides greater monitoring capacity for villagers.

Using this tool kit – in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), relocated communities document developments systematically, track magnitude of impact and suggest possible solutions.

Under the Transparency Responsiveness Accountability Citizen and Engagement (TRACE) project spearheaded by ZELA community monitors document service delivery related developments using a community report card.

“We are documenting accurate information as the TRACE monitoring report requires that one fills in the problem and explain where and when it occurred as well as how many people are affected by the problem in question,” says Mudiwa.

Community monitors provide detailed problem description, specific location, impact of problem to villagers with witness details, track developments while suggesting recommendations for possible solutions.

Mukasiri Sibanda of ZELA said TRACE seeks to ensure that citizen engagement, promote responsiveness, transparency and accountability from stakeholders in the mining value chain.

He said monitoring toolkit equipped communities with a sense of responsibility on social service delivery issues.

“Before   pointing   out  whose  role it  is  to  provide  people  with  service delivery in this community, as citizen of  the area  each member should engage in taking up responsibilities for  the  development of the community,” he said.

“This allows communities with mineral wealth to trace benefits from the diamonds, these communities ideally expect an improvement on public goods and these include social services like health, education and infrastructure.

“Now communities can document what legacy diamond mining has left for them.”

One resident who requested anonymity said diamond mining left a legacy of unfulfilled promises, poverty and loss of livestock, impoverishing families by disturbing their traditional ways of life.

She said companies chose to build overpriced houses without consultation and failed to provide proper service infrastructure like health centers and schools, depriving them of essential social services.

“Indeed  mining companies which were operating in  Marange Chiadzwa  compensated  us  by giving us houses and money ,but  for  people  who were  disturbed from their  way life  it  was not  enough.

“These companies did nothing to assist us when they moved us except pittances for relocation allowances but they did not build any schools for and our children learn in structures similar to fowl runs,” she said.

ARDA Transau Relocation Development Trust chairman Cephas Mujuru said residents were taking up responsibilities to improve their standards of living through active participation afforded by TRACE.

He said residents now consider service delivery issues as their responsibility enabling better participation in areas where they can intervene as communities without assistance of mining companies.

“Although schools pass rates have improved through School Development Committees, there is still some room for improvement as this has not been across the board but it is encouraging.

“Health services especially for expecting mothers have improved through citizen engagement as the community worked together to build a Maternity Ward,” he said

Mudiwa says livelihood challenges faced by relocated families are testimony that disadvantages outweigh benefits from diamond mining activities.

He said through TRACE communities have come to realize that issues of social service delivery transcended political affiliation.

Documentation of authentic information has also assisted communities to realize that essential service delivery issues are lacking, said Mudiwa.

“We are no longer only accurate information but we are getting a sense of responsibility and ownership among our communities,” he said.

Mudiwa applauds government for cancelling mining licenses as companies failed to create local content development despite disturbance of traditional economic means of host communities.

“We are fully behind the Minister of Mines who did not renew licenses of these mining companies, our lives were okay before diamond mining started now we are worse off than before.

“These mining companies promised use heaven on earth only to dump us on the doorstep of poverty, they never fulfilled any of their promises expect for the four roomed houses which they built for us,” he said.

Health centres are currently overwhelmed by an increase in patient burden compromising health service delivery, with officials lamenting limited funding.

An official who requested anonymity said the increasing patient burden required government’s intervention as mining companies paid little attention to health services.

“The only help that we have received as health centers from mining companies was only the donation of a rubbish bin and nothing else tangible.

“We are now facing a high patient burden because of the relocated families and we are failing to sustain our operations as medication is running out while the personnel are being overwhelmed,” said the official.

To further exacerbate falling social services, families which lost their livestock during the relocation exercise are yet to receive compensation, with uncertainty hanging as companies seized operations.

The cancellation of licenses comes in as government finalizes setting up a consolidated mining company to bring transparency in the lucrative but shaky diamonds sector.

Mudiwa however remains upbeat that with assistance from development partners the relocated families will chart a sustainable social service delivery system.

“We are hopeful that we will surmount these challenges and put in place good social services for our communities and ensure that we develop.”

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