Marange villagers lament poor living conditions

Marange villagers who were displaced to Arda Transau about 11 years ago by the State to pave way for diamond mining activities in the area are demanding better living conditions at their resettlement area.

The villagers who attended the Marange commemorations, formerly known as Operation Hakudzokwi commemorations, cited such challenges as unavailability of water, poor education facilities for children and no farms to sustain their families.

The commemorations were held last week under the theme ‘Healing memories and building sustainable partnership for development’.

Agnes Zengemo told CITE that at least five children have been swept away by Odzi river which serves as their alternative source of water apart from the two boreholes they have.

“We only have two boreholes in the area, one at a clinic and the other at the school. We do not have safe sources of water and we end up fetching from Odzi river. Just recently the river claimed five children,” said Zengemo.

“We have engaged the company on various occasions concerning the issue but nothing tangible has materialised. The company only drilled boreholes at the school and the clinic but in the community, there aren’t any boreholes. We feel as though we were dumped at the area because they do not attend to our challenges. All the things that they promised to do for us in the area haven’t been done.”

Charles Mauchaza said they were ‘dumped’ in an area with conditions different from the lifestyle they were accustomed to.

“We feel as if we were moved from a rural setup and put in an urban area. We no longer have fields to sustain our families. We were awarded only one hectare of land each which is not sufficient for us. We need to farm and sell our produce. Farming is our sole source of income and survival, with such a small area we can’t raise money and get food at the same time. We are even expected to pay water bills,” said Mauchaza.

“The area has only one school that was built by Anjin mining company but it is too small. All children cannot fit into the classrooms so we have made makeshift ones to protect them from harsh weather conditions but they are not entirely safe structures.”

Mauchaza said leaders in their area are acting as a barrier between the people and the mining companies as they try to silence them when they air out their problems.

He explained that the situation was better when they would directly communicate with the mining companies but the arrangement was suspended and now they have to report through the district administrator.

“We were promised that each household would have one member employed by the mining company (Anjin Investments) but till now there is no employment for anyone. At first, we would engage directly with the company for our grievances but with time we were told to go through the District Administrator,” he said.

“The district administrator shuns away our grievances claiming we do not understand. It now looks like it’s a political stunt. The councillors we have also tell us not to complain. They say we will be exposing the government. At the end of the day, none of our leaders attends to our challenges.”

Mutare District Administrator Wilson Boora dismissed the allegations by villagers as malicious arguing that there are more than two boreholes in the area.            

“Plans are underway to ensure that more boreholes can be set up in the area. However, contrary to the allegations they made, there are more than just two boreholes in the area. So far there is one central borehole in each section.

“In terms of payment for water, It is unfortunate that they cannot be exempted from paying water bills because the supplier is ZINWA and they have costs to cater for. We cannot afford to give people free water at the moment.”

Boora said allegations of children being washed away by the river came to their attention but when they enquired with the police, they said no reports were made to that regard. 

“These are just statements from people who want to create a bad picture out of a situation, in fact, we haven’t received such strong rains in that part of Mutare that could result in people being washed away.”

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