MUTARE – The just ended Provincial Alternative Mining Indaba (PAMI) brought to the fore residents’ deep-seated anger at diamond mining companies and government’s operations which have led to extensive environmental and socio-economic disturbances.
The PAMI organised by Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) brought together various stakeholders in the mining industry to dialogue on issues bedeviling the underperforming sector.
However residents’ representatives took turns to blast government arms like Environmental Management Agency, Human Rights Commission, mining companies and traditional leaders for polluting effluent.
This has led to massive deaths of livestock well into thousands some residents who live along Save and Odzi rivers claimed.
Tichaenzana Chibuwe, the treasurer of Save-Odzi Community Development Trust said they are failing to seek recourse with the mining companies as the areas where they operate are quasi- military prohibited area.
“Issue inonyanya kutirwadza irikuenderera it’s the issue yepollution zvekuti parizvino tarasikirwa nezvipfuyo zvakawandisa. Chinonyanya kunetsa inyaya yekuti hatikwanisi kusvika kuma mining areas because it’s a no go area kuti tikwanise kutaura navo zvinonetsa kunyanya DMC ino discharger muna Save.
(The main issue which pains us the most is the issue of pollution which has lead to deaths of our livestock and the main problem is that we can’t access the mining companies because where they mine it’s a no go area, so we can’t communicate with them, especially DMC which is discharging effluent in Save river).
“Up to now (If we try to call them they don’t come because they are afraid we will ask for compensation) kuti tivadaidze havauyi because vanotya kuti tinozoda compensation.
“Mining payakauya haina kutisimudzira yakatoti destroyer,” said Chibuwe.
Chitotombe said penalties have been issued to mining companies but EMA jurisdiction was only to advise police to make arrests which has not been done so far he however failed to provide statistics.
“I can’t give you figures offhand wozouya ku (come to the) office so that I can give you proper information but we have issued several penalties against diamond mining companies,” he said.
Africa University lecturer and mining researcher, Dr Solomon Mungure said the major problem in Africa was governance by voting without checks and balances.
“We should run away from governance by voting to governance by checks and balances
“Hatichadi zvekukupinzai mabasa nekukuvhoterai takuda kuti mave mukati mubvunze kuti mari yakati yakabva kwakati yakaenda kupi that’s what is governance ndiyo governance chaiyo (We no longer want to get you into offices through the ballot but we want you to provide checks and balances once you are elected,” he said.
Chief Zimunya however made sensational claims that traditional leaders are powerless stooges which are not respected by central government as they are divorced from decision making.
He said the relocation of Chiadzwa residents was improperly done as the Chinese exhumed bodies of buried ancestors to pave way for relocation.
“Nyaya yeku ARDA Transau inotirwadza zvikuru nekuti maChinese akauya akatora mapfupa amadzibaba edu vakaisa mumasaga, mapfupa eku Arda Transau mapfupa ehama dzedu vakuru vangu saka akaiswepi mapfupa iwawo. (The issue of Arda Transau is very painful to us because the Chinese exhumed the bodies of our ancestors and put them in sacks we want to know where these remains are)
“MaChina havazivi tsika dzemuno asi hapana mutungamiriri asingazivi tsika dzedu saka kushora. Mambo haana samba haarevi chiro kana hurumende isangavakoshesi (The Chinese do not know our traditions but there are no leaders who don’t know these traditions so it’s a clear case of disregard of Chiefs, at the end the Chief is useless if government does not respect them),” he said.
Veronica Zano of ZELA said mining companies and government should encourage stakeholder dialogue in order to address gap in the mining sector as she called for continous community dialogue.
“Such meetings are there just as a pointer to show government and mining companies that there is need for continous stakeholder engagement and dialogue to fill in gaps which are being raised here. Without dialogue such issues will remain unresolved,” she said.
Part of outstanding issues includes the non remission of community share ownership schemes with the six diamond firms are yet to disburse $50 million they jointly pledged into the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust as dictated by the Indigenisation Act.
On the other hand villagers resettled in Arda Transau are yet to receive compensation whilst companies have not yet erected irrigation schemes as well as construct a clinic, primary and secondary school in their respective demarcated areas.
Villagers in Buhera South and Hotsprings are also battling chronic illnesses facing their livestock emanating from the pollution of Save and Odzi rivers by harmful substances discharged by the miners.
Thousands of cattle have been reportedly died while women have been battling genital rashes feared to cause cervical cancer because of the polluted water.
However, while these myriad challenges remain unresolved, government has already stepped a gear up to merge the six Marange firms, DTZ-OZGEO and Rio Tinto into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation (ZCDC).