Frosty relations between the state and the displaced Marange villagers seem to be thawing after the former allowed the community to hold its annual commemorations to honour the lives of those who died during the State takeover of the Marange diamond fields about 11 years ago.
The event organised by the Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) has been held on an annual basis for the past four years.
Over the years, police had denied granting permission to the community to hold the event but this year it (event) was ‘cleared’, a move applauded by the community and interpreted as a ray of hope.
The annual event which had been dubbed “Operation Hakudzokwi” has since been changed to Marange commemorations after the show of interest to engage by stakeholders.
The commemorations, Friday, were held under the theme ‘Healing memories and building sustainable partnership for development’.
In a sideline interview during the event, CNRG director Farai Maguwu noted that the State and various stakeholders have been forthcoming and listening to the grievances of the community.
Maguwu said there is a need for the stakeholders to ensure they enhance the people’s livelihood.
“Unlike in other years, this time the police cleared the event without any hustles. This is a good start from the State and stakeholders. However, we expect relevant organizations to ensure they develop the area in terms of roads, infrastructure, education, and health facilities. We do not want such proceedings to be reduced to mere talk-shows. We now expect development to start happening,” he said.
“These commemorations are not limited to only the lives lost, we mourn the death of this community as a whole. Over 1300 families were displaced to ARDA Transau and are suffering there. We commemorate the violation of the culture and spirituality of this particular area in Zimbabwe.”
Maguwu said it is disheartening that a place where diamonds worth several billions of dollars were discovered remains primitive and backward.
“There is no infrastructure, no roads, health facilities, and schools have not yet been developed. It is a perfect example of a resource cursed community where the abundance of natural resources has brought misery and pain to the people,” said Maguwu.
“In Johannesburg when gold was discovered, they began to develop the city, they ploughed the resources back into that community. Marange has produced natural resources with value greater than those of Johannesburg but there is nothing to show for it. The most important thing is planning. There is need to plan strategically on how to allocate our natural resources.”
Maguwu urged stakeholders to work on a multiplier effect to enhance development.