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Relocated Marange Villagers' Lives Revitalized

FILE - Illegal diamonds from Zimbabwe are displayed for sale in Manica, Mozambique.
Some of the resettled families in Odzi in Manicaland province who were removed from Chiadzwa to pave way for diamond mining in Marange, say they are happy they were resettled in the area as they have started realizing good harvests and now have descent accommodation.

They expect the diamond mining firms to fulfill more promises as they seek growth and self-reliance.

Esau Marimbire is one of hundreds of people moved from their former homes in Chiadzwa’s Marange area. His family is now staying in Odzi’s Arda Transau in Mutare North constituency.

The father of seven says he is pleased that he now has a decent home built by one of the diamond mining firms, Anjin Investments of China.

He adds that while there are other outstanding issues that need to be addressed, generally most people in the community are now happy that the move was not in vain after all.

“From the onset I think this relocation is right and there is nothing we can blame the government for. But I appeal for the fulfillment of more promises made particularly the issue of irrigation land to be availed immediately. We also want more houses for the families that are yet to get them,” said Marimbire.

He says villagers are now occupying up-market three bed-roomed houses where they can actively practice farming and get bumper harvests.

He says the soils in Odzi are rich and villagers have had good harvests since moving to the settlement.

However, Marimbire is worried about the safety of the resettled villagers’ livestock which are being run over by trains.

“At least comparing with our past farm land in Bocha’s Marange area, the soil here is very good, rich and we are assured of sound harvests. Our other appeal is to ensure that we have a security fence along the railway line to protect our livestock from being crashed by the trains,” he said.

While Marimbire is happy with the move from Chiadzwa to Odzi, other villagers are unhappy with the government relocation exercise.

Cephas Gwayawaya, who was removed from his home in Chiadzwa, says he had a better life in Chiadzwa.

Gwayagwaya says he had a bigger house in Chiadzwa and had his freedom, unlike at Arda Transau in Odzi where families live in what he calls compounds as they are all clustered together.

Last week, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights attended a court case of one disgruntled family at Odzi Police Station where the Kambeni family – the father, his 14 wives and children were charged with unlawful entry.

The 89-year-old Philemon Johwani Kaiboni Kambeni and his 14 wives is one of the unhappy families. He says the accommodation offered for his family is not suitable. Delays to offer him better housing continues to frustrate him.

The family was relocated to Arda Transau from their spacious home in the Chiadzwa diamond fields to pave way for mining in February 27, 2011.

For the moment, it seems to be a mixed bag with families that had better housing and decent lives in Chiadzwa complaining the most while those who were struggling are smiling all the way to the bank with their new houses and rich soils to produce various crops.