Diamonds were discovered in 2006 in Marange Zimbabwe, about two kilometers from my homestead in Betera village. The discovery of diamonds resulted in a diamond rush where people from all walks of life rushed to Marange in search of the previous stone. The discovery of diamonds also meant that we would be relocated from our homes. This marked the beginning of our long relationship with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) who approached us and provided us with guidance on how we should start organising ourselves as a united community to speak with one voice.
I remember when I called for a meeting with the communities facing eviction from Chirasika village; I advised the community to resist relocation to force the government to arrange a round table with those communities. This resistance led to my arrest on charges of inciting communities to resist relocation. My passion and inspiration led me to take a leading role. I read about Sir Richard Branson who sacrificed his life and resources to rescue his people: the British nationals from Bagdad during the Gulf war, and Nelson Mandela who sacrificed his entire life for his people. When the process of identifying who was to be affected by relocation, my homestead was listed as number one on the list. When the first group of twelve people were forcefully evicted, they were to be housed in old Tobacco burners; a move which we resisted. ZELA advised that we seek redress from the courts.
Sadly, the High Court Judge dismissed the action, stating that it was not urgent. However, we kept on fighting the injustice from both Government and the mining companies. We have documented a number of reports for cattle which has been lost as result of being trapped in open pits left unprotected after mining companies exhausted these mining sites along with cases of discharge of effluent in our rivers, notwithstanding the people who have lost their lives either from being falling into dams or trapped in the mud. Seeking redress from both Mining Companies and Government have been in vain, they kept ignoring the community’s voice.
In 2016, we took the Government to court over forced evictions without following the due process, a case which we won. The Government, through the Provincial Administrator’s office, refused to grant Marange Development Trust an MoU without giving any reason on our application. Currently, we are still seeking legal advice on what action should be taken.
Compiled by Malvern Mudiwa, Chairperson and Founder of Marange Development Trust.