Villagers denounce irregular operations by the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company

Artisanal miners digging for diamonds in Marange. (Image courtesy of Human Rights Watch)

Representatives from the community-based organization Marange Development Trust appeared before Zimbabwe’s Parliament to denounce that people in the Marange diamond fields are experiencing worse living conditions now that the Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company is in charge of the area.

According to Chairman Malvern Mudiwa, the different kinds of abuses that villagers have been enduring for decades have intensified. He said that locals are subjected to beatings, are asked to relocate with little notice and with no compensation, and air pollution, environmental degradation, and poverty are rampant.

Representatives of the Marange Development Trust before Zimbabwe’s Parliament in March 2018.

The community organizer expressed special concern about the environmental effects of mining activities carried out by the state-owned corporation, which was created in 2016 after the consolidation of seven firms that were mining gems in the Marange diamond fields, located in the eastern part of the country. According to Mudiwa, the ZCDC is operating without environmental impact assessments and, on top of that, the company does not contribute anything to the community.

The Marange Development Trust rep emphasized that water pollution has become a big problem, as well as deep gullies that are left open after mining sites have been exhausted. Mudiwa also denounced that graves and sacred places are being desecrated, livestock is dying and, since blasting is taking place 50 metres away from homesteads, dust not only pollutes the air but it is also blocking solar panels.

The activist concluded that diamonds have become a curse instead of a blessing for those living in the Mutare West region.