About 40 families in ARDA Transau in Manicaland province, who were removed from Chiadzwa communal lands by diamond mining companies six years ago to pave way for mining operations, have forcibly occupied some houses being constructed by a mining firm to protest against lack of action by Marange Resources to give them alternative accommodation.
The villagers said they decided to take over the three-bedroomed houses as government and Marange Resources have failed to resettle them.
One of the occupants, Antony Mwashita, who was living in a one-roomed hamlet with five family members, said they are fed up with empty promises.
“The circumstances forced me into it as I am fighting for my rights. I know that shelter is one of the basic human rights and as contained in the new constitution. I know that every citizen has a right to it. If it means dying I will die for my rights as I know I have a right to shelter and even if you are to kill me I am prepared for that too,” said Mwashita.
Another villager, Tawanda Mufute, said he decided to occupy one of the houses because there is lack of communication between government, Marange Resources and local people over the provision of accommodation for the affected people.
Mufute said, “The decision that led me to occupy this house is that since 2010 and 2011 when we were relocated and were the first group we have been promised a countless times to be moved in but nothing has materialized. Ever since then I have been staying with my father and by this we are trying to knock sense into their heads. The DA has been saying he knows our plight and promised to give us the houses but nothing has been done.”
Chairperson of the Arda Transau Relocation Families Housing Committee, Webster Murare, said almost 40 families out of the 53 homeless households have decided to allocate themselves the empty semi-complete housing structures at the Agricultural and Rural Development Association Farm.
“So far 34 families have occupied the houses and the reason is that they have been waiting and trying to talk to the responsible people such as the DA and the PA but nothing has materialized to date and we decided to occupy and take this move for us to be taken seriously and to be understood.”
Blessing Mufute, chairperson of the Arda Transau Relocated Community Development Trust, said this move was long overdue.
“Yes I am surprised that the people who had not been given their houses decided to wait this long to take this noble decision. The people could not stomach it anymore and now they have moved in and this has taken long and that is why they have done this.”
Mutare provincial administrator Fungai Mbetsa was not available for comment as his secretary at the government building said he was out on official business. Manicaland provincial affairs Minister Mandi Mandiitawepi Chimene could not be reached for a comment.
There was also no comment from Marange Resources which constructed the houses for villagers that were removed from Chiadzwa diamond fields.