As Zimbabwe Parliament committee members opened a fact-finding mission to the Marange diamond field of Manicaland province on Tuesday but immediately ran into resistance from one of the firms developing the resource in partnership with the government.
Local activists meanwhile declared they are increasingly concerned about the continued presence of the Zimbabwean military controlling the area.
The Chiadzwa Community Development Trust voiced its concerns Monday in a meeting with lawmaker Shuwa Mudiwa and environmental lawyers. The group said the presence of soldiers in the Marange or Chiadzwa area as it is also known promotes corruption. Activists charged that syndicates have been siphoning diamonds from Marange to sell in nearby Mozambique.
The community group said local miners should be able to obtain licenses to dig for diamonds alongside the government’s joint venture partner firms, Mbada Holdings and Canadile Mining.
Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the government should immediately order the military out of Marange district because soldiers continue to abuse residents.
Meanwhile, members of Parliament's Committee on Mines were stuck in Mutare late Tuesday after being barred from the offices of Canadile Mining, a firm mining diamonds in Marange under a joint venture with a Zimbabwean government entity. Canadile officials told the lawmakers that they could not enter the offices because the lacked proper police authorization.
The committee, en route to Marange to look into a wide range of alleged abuses, had a letter from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, sources said. They wanted to inspect Canadile's facilities for the storage of diamonds, among other aspects of the operation.
Committee Chairman Chindori Chininga, a member of the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and a former mines minister, was said to have been livid when his team was barred from Canadile's premises.
The fact-finding team is now expected to enter the premises on Wednesday armed with a letter from the police, before proceeding to Marange itself.
Mbada barred journalists from accompanying the panel members into the alluvial diamond zone.