MUTARE: The displacement of the Chiadzwa people after the discovery of diamond reserves in Marange produced extreme levels of precarity and marginality.
In 2003, more than 1500 families were forcibly evicted from their ancestral land in Chiadzwa to the ARDA Transau Farm to pave way for the large-scale diamond mining.
Despite initially resisting relocation and demanding huge amounts of money as compensation, the people finally had no choice but to move close to 140 kilometres away from their homes.
When this was done, no social and cultural considerations were made.
After living under the reign and leadership of Chief Marange, the villagers were dumped on Chief Zimunya’s land creating animosity between the two Chiefs.
Zimunya felt disrespected as he was not consulted on the resettlement process and claims he was only looped in when the people started experiencing inexplicable things such as sour water and boreholes drying up.
Born and raised under Chief Marange in the Chiadzwa area, Clara Magobe (48) feels shortchanged, despite being given only a thousand American dollars once-off disturbance allowance after being dangled by a five thousand dollar promise.
“Ever since we arrived here, tava kugara munyika isina ishe, we don’t even know who to consult. Should we go to the Zimbabwe Republic Police or the councillor with our issues? No one knows,” questioned Clara Magobe
The displaced Marange villagers feel like they have lost identity and are no longer sure about where they belong and whose leadership they fall under
“Those that relocated us don’t even care about how we live or survive. All they were after, was to drive us from Marange so that they can mine the precious stone” she said
Between 2016 and 2019 the Chiadzwa people staged several protests and voiced their displeasures about their appalling living conditions at the ARDA Transau Farm, unfulfilled promises, exclusion from diamond wealth, and continued looting of diamonds at their expense, as well as lack of meaningful development.
However, all of these efforts amounted to less or nothing.
“We once had a polygamy campaign, where we had one person who had 8 wives. In Marange, he had all his wives with him in the same compound but when we were moved to this Arda farm, the small room within one hectare wasn’t enough for his family.”
Due to common social beliefs, most men from Chiadzwa and surrounding communities in Marange have polygamous families, a situation that also proved a difficulty for the relocation exercises.
“We were successful in the campaign and each of his wives got a place to stay but it wasn’t enough. Only three wives got houses in the same area the rest were allocated in another area that is close to 5km away” said Magobe
Center for Research and Development (CRD) Director James Mupfumi blamed companies and the government for shifting people without proper social amenities
“The biggest challenge is these people were settled in Chief Zimunya’s area and traditionally he has a right to allocate people land when it suits him, but on the other hand the government is also claiming the ARDA farm saying its state land”
“So you will discover that the relocation did not address some other cultural issues, the people here no longer have traditional leaders, they don’t have someone to consult whenever there is a need, leaving people to receive blows between the government and the chief’s disputes. They also don’t belong to the council,’’ he said
Efforts to get the Chiadzwa people a traditional leader didn’t bear fruits
“We once had a program where we wanted Chief Marange to be given this jurisdiction, but we hit a brick wall when the then Minister of state died but, he had developed an interest in the issue”
A Working Group on Land Housing rights in Zimbabwe last week urged the government to establish a dedicated government agency during a press conference in Mutare.
“We urge the government to establish a dedicated government agency to manage displacements and internally displaced people and provide effective grievances redress and feedback mechanisms that facilitate engagement between the central government officials/institutions, local government, capital/investors, and targeted communities in cases of disputes and human rights violations before during and after displacements,” said CHSZ researcher Admire Mutize
The working group is a coalition of Civic and community-based organizations, organized under the banner. It comprises seven groups, Community Alliance for Human Settlements in Zimbabwe (CAHSZ), Masvingo Center for Research and Development (MACRAD), and Centre for Research and Development (CRD). Manyame Social Solidarity (MASOSO), Public Information Rights Forum (PIRF), ARDA Transau Community Trust, and Mazowe Evant Farm Community Trust