Arriving at Chiadzwa turn off approximately 100 kilometers south of Mutare along the Chipinge highway, one is quickly attracted to a gigantic billboard erected by one of the mining firms doing business in the diamond rich area.
The words inscribed on the billboard in very visible font size read; “We care for the community.”
A closer assessment of the surrounding environment and the sorry sight of the local communities stand in contrary to the message on the billboard.
Vendors captured selling their wares at right under the big bill board at Chiadzwa turn off while pick-up truck operators wait for clients to surrounding areas.
A few old pickup trucks, used by the locals as transport means to surrounding areas can be seen parking with a handful vendors selling wild fruits that include mauyu (baobab fruit), mats and a few drinks. One will then be left wondering whether this place was once a hive of activity during the pick of the diamond rush in Chiadzwa, and whether they really “Care” for the communities?
People living around the place have resorted to their old ways of living that is selling mats made from baobab trees bark as well as selling (mauyu) fruits from the same tree.
The scenes and the activities are a clear indication that the area and its people never benefited from the minerals that were extracted from their own backyard, as most people in the government and some of the mining firms that did mining operations there would want to portray to the world.
Speaking to 263Chat news crew at Chiadzwa turn off, some of the few vendors selling wild fruits had no kind words for the government and the mining firms involved in mining the precious gems.
“By the time it came to be known that this place was filthy rich with diamonds, it was everyone’s hope that our livelihood will change for the good, but look at us, years later and still counting, nothing has changed or improved. We still rely on selling mats, mauyu and other wild fruits. What does that say to the governments and all these mines that came and looted our resources? Go to other places, at least people there have proper transport means. Look at the old pick up tracks parked under those trees, its every sad,” said one vendor, who has spent the whole day at the once famous Chiadzwa turn off without selling anything that whole day.
He added, “We usually get clients who use Chipinge routes as well as others from as far as Harare. We have a few foreigners who come once in a while to buy our products in large quantities. We have hoped for better fortunes but it seems the government has other ideas.”
The biggest mat is being sold at $25RTGS, with the medium size going for $10RTGS while the smallest size is being sold at $5RTGS, all in local currency.
The vendors also spoke about employment creation which they said was not doing any good to the communities as those mandated to employ people always look somewhere else for labour leaving the youths in the area jobless.
“We don’t even know what happens in terms of employment. All we know is most of our youths here are not employed but we see a lot of people going to work there and we don’t know where they come from.”