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Communities around mining areas in Manicaland feel ripped off

Friday, December 19, 2014 - 09:59

Diamond mining activities taking place in Marange Manicaland Province are causing negative environmental, economic and social cultural degradation in and surrounding areas in the province such as Chipinge, Odzi, Chimanimani and Buhera Districts. Mining companies in Marange are dumping their waste in Singwizi River in Buhera District which feeds into Save River causing pollution to the main source of water in the area.  

There have been reports from women and men in Marange who are experiencing rashes and feeling itchy on sexual reproductive parts respectively. The communities are blaming the polluted water although no medical tests have been done to confirm the community’s predicament.  

Myness Matandu from Chiadzwa in Marange who was relocated to a site called Adar Transal in the same area to pave way for mining company activities, has suffered double tragedy: “I developed some rash on my private parts and I have not been able to get assistance from the clinic run by the mining company because communities have been told that the clinic only serves workers from the mine only.”

 Both men and women are experiencing cracking heels while there have been reports of small-scale farmers losing their cattle.  The mining activities are allegedly causing siltation resulting in the death and extinction of aqua species such as fish.

The mining ventures have also caused havoc socially with reports of unwanted pregnancies and early childhood marriages caused by the mining workers, mostly not from Manicaland who are impregnating local women and girls and dump them in the process.   

The Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association (ZELA) in partnership with ActionAid Zimbabwe, in November 2014 organised a media tour to Mangwadza Village in Ward 28 of Buhera South in Manicaland, where no mining activity is taking place but communities are enduring water pollution as a result of mining activities happening upstream. Water pollution has ripped off Buhera communities of their most treasured livestock which are dying at an alarming rate after drinking the polluted water.

Elias Matsveruke (32) a member Buhera District in Manicaland said:  “The type of water our animals are now drinking is red brick in colour. Water pollution is killing fish which are being suffocated in the muddy and sticky water”.

Marvis Karanyi (61) of Hot Springs in Chimanimani said: “I have lost 60 head of cattle since 2010 due to the polluted water. My source of livelihood is cattle. I am now left with five beasts only”.  Karanyi’s neighbour Reuben Bvumbura of Hot Springs also said he lost 21 cattle since 2009.

Communities in Hot springs are said to be succumbing to cultural and moral decadence as a result of mining activities in the area.  Workers from mining sites are reportedly impregnating school going age girls at primary level. “They are recruiting men from Bulawayo, Masvingo, and Harare to who are impregnating our children,” said Gladmore Zvikombo from Hot Springs.  Munashe (16) from Hot Springs is a teen mother to a one- year- six months old child. She said she was allegedly dumped by a man whose whereabouts could not be traced.

Mining activities in Chiadzwa are being run by both the government and multinationals.

ZELA in partnership with ActionAid Zimbabwe has since 2010 been providing education and legal services to communities affected by mining activities in  Manicaland and Mashonaland East Provinces focusing on their environmental, economic social cultural rights.