The Proposed amalgamation of diamond firms has brought anxiety for villagers who are wary that new management may fail to address unresolved rehabilitation and compensation issues.
Speaking at the launch of an environmental complaints system for villagers by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), villagers expressed concerns over unresolved environmental and relocation issues in the ravaged diamond area.
ZELA in collaboration with Action Aid Zimbabwe established the monitoring system under a project titled ‘Promoting the Protection of Environmental, Social, Economic and Cultural rights of Communities Living in Diamond Mining Areas of Eastern Zimbabwe.’
Villagers are apprehensive that consolidation will disturb compensation of families over livestock lost due to effluent of discharge into Save River by diamond mining companies that operated in the area.
Government through the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development has formed the Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC) with the intention of merging mining companies to plug leakages and enhance transparency.
Malvern Mudiwa chairman of Marange Development Trust (MDT) said there was general anxiety over sticking points including rehabilitation and compensation of families which lost their livestock.
He said there was need for government to engage the villagers on how the process would proceed in addressing their primary concerns.
“Government has done the correct thing by stopping mining operations but what we need now is engagement with stakeholders.
“We have a lot of questions as villagers, we have lost livestock due to pollution of our rivers, who will clean up Save River when those that polluted it in the first place are no longer there,” he said.
The diamonds which were once touted as the solution to Zimbabwe’s economic woes when they were discovered in 2006 have been extracted under veils of secrecy, says environmental watchdog ZELA.
This has impacted negatively on local communities whose environmental, economic and socio-cultural rights were abused, the ZELA complaints toolkit, created to strengthen community capacities, states.
“In odrer to strengethen community rights and the fight against environmental, economic and socio-cultural rights abuses, ZELA works with community monitors in Chimanimani, Chipinge, Buhera, Marange and Chiadzwa to establish a Community Complaints system that can link communities with government institutions to enable them to expeditiously and promptly respond.”
The toolkit will enable communities to document issues like the overhanging pollution concerns with evidence based scientific, environmental or social studies and research on impacts of mining activities on community livelihoods.