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Diamond Company Merger Unsettles Displaced Zimbabwe Villagers

FILE - Illegal diamonds from Zimbabwe are displayed for sale in Manica, Mozambique.

Local media reports indicating that some top diamond mining companies are likely to merge have unsettled displaced Zimbabweans who were relocated to ARDA Transau and some civic organizations.

They say the merger may further complicate the fulfillment of promises made when Anjin Investments of China and others started mining diamonds in this eastern part of the country.

Some locals in Chiadzwa communal lands, Manicaland Province, say the companies that are proposing the merger have not yet spelt out how they will compensate them for lost fields and the provision of proper accommodation.

According to Mines Minister, Walter Chidakwa, the proposed merger of all diamond mines in Chiadzwa, DTZ Ozgeo in Chimanimani and Murowa Diamonds in Zvishavane are expected to form a big company with a combined shareholding of 50 percent with the government owning the other stake.

The government and some stakeholders say this arrangement is expected to promote accountability in the mining of diamonds. There has been an outcry over the years with most Zimbabweans saying they are not benefiting from diamond sales.

Some diamond watchdogs have also claimed that the country is losing billions of dollars in potential revenue due to lack of accountability in the mining and selling of the gems.

Malvern Mudiwa of Chiadzwa, who is also chairperson of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust, says this proposed meager is haunting displaced villagers.

Mudiwa says it is disturbing that there has not been helpful information to the affected families in Chiadzwa on what will happen when the merger is concluded.

Director of the Zimbabwe Natural Resources Dialogue Forum, Freeman Bhosso, echoed the same sentiments adding that the company merger would cause serious legal challenges despite its good intentions.

Bhosso says many outstanding promises between villagers and the companies would prove to be a major hurdle and thorny issue to address under a new set up.

Solomon Mungure, of the Institute for Peace Leadership and Governance at the Africa University in Mutare , shares the same views.

Mungure says what is required is to deal with the issues of relocated people and those still in Chiadzwa before the merger. He adds that the government should realize that any merger without tangible resolutions of pertinent issues of villagers would be in vain.

It still remains to be seen whether some of these issues will be addressed before the merger following years of conflict between the diamond mining firms and local communities.

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