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'No to continued plunder of our resources' - Marange: The Imprisoned Community

24 Nov 2018 at 08:12hrs | Views
The discovery of diamonds in Marange in 2006 located in the Eastern part of Zimbabwe did not translate into the much anticipated benefits to the local inhabitants. The yearning for positive development among the Marange people has become a 'crisis of expectation' as a number challenges have emerged in the post 2010 era. Marange: the Imprisoned Community is a film which chronicles narratives of "resource curse," a story of plunder, looting of diamonds by handlers of the levers of power in association with external players.

The story of China's foothold in Africa with Anjin, a company leading in Eastern Zimbabwe in extracting diamonds exhibits the dilemma that indigenous people are confronted with. Far from the rhetoric of the 'New Dispensation,' the film produced by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), indicates a continuation of suffering from the Robert Mugabe led administration to the Emmerson Mnangagwa led government, for Marange Communal lands residents. The film is based on true life events taking shape in Manicaland province, eastern Zimbabwe. Marange is one of the biggest diamond mining spaces in Zimbabwe.

Narratives from those who experienced torture, empty promises, and crises of expectation are well covered in this new 2018 film. Government operation code named Operation Hakudzokwe [Operation no return] was unleashed on civilians who were making efforts to survive on the diamonds during the climax of the discovery of diamonds in 2008. This saw the deaths of many people and every year in November, commemorations for Operation Hakudzokwe are made by Marange residents.

Economic nationalism forms an important facet to this narrative as claims of belonging and right to ownership are noted. Artisanal miners being the ones who discovered the diamonds in 2006 expected to benefit economically. On the contrary, State sponsored violence followed with one male artisanal miner showing dog bits despite having surrendered in the face of security personnel. Farai Maguwu the director of CNRG argued that, these artisanal miners are not criminals and inhumane treatment and violence imposed by the state was uncalled for. Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, in the Midlands province covering areas such as Kwekwe, there are no such reported cases upon artisanal miners.

For residents of Marange, Moses Mukwada another informant argued that it is now problematic to even own a car within this community as extra requirements are made. A permit worth Bond $40.00 is required to clear the car for movement. This is due to the fact that Marange is under the Protected Places and Areas Act which inhibits the freedom to move for community members and visitors alike.

On development, Headman Chipindirwi argued that the companies are not doing much to address the plight of local residents. Fencing a local school called Banda is the only observable achievement worth noting. No tarred roads, land degradation, clinics are in a terrible state and relocation to ARDA Transau (a government owned old farm) from which the people were not compensated, add to this sad story for the Marange people. Matthew Ruguwa (2017) in a detailed study of Marange relocation argues that it was a development disaster, implying that the wealth derived from the extraction of diamonds has not trickled down to the displaced households in a meaningful way despite the fact that they were the ones who have had to bear the brunt of the devastating impacts of mining operations. 'Resource curse' aptly captures the story of ordinary people in Marange communal lands.

 The people of Marange community are saying, 'no to continued plunder of our resources' as it is their right to survive. Is this a democratic country?, queered the youth representative for Marange community. Failure to have access to the companies that are extracting diamonds, unemployment among the youths as well as other challenges indicate a society under siege by those in power. The missing 15 Billion was not left out in these narratives with Marange residents asking for answers to their plight.

The challenges encountered by the ordinary people in Marange points to the fallacies of the new dispensation narrative generally propagated in the mainstream Zimbabwe media spaces. The struggle is far from over as colonial experiences of displacement and dehumanizing citizens persists. Some are more citizens than others. There is 'development of underdevelopment' as looting of diamonds is taking shape.
However, the film produced by CNRG comes at a time when transparency and accountability issues remain problematic in the land locked Southern Africa country, Zimbabwe. In a report titled, An inside job Zimbabwe: the state, the security forces, and a decade of disappearing diamonds, Global Witness points to the involvement of Zimbabwe security forces in the looting of diamonds. The military controlled a 30% stake in the joint venture with the Chinese government-owned corporation, the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co Ltd (Afec). The same report indicates that the diamonds are channeled through Dubai, Belgium and Mozambique by a complex web of a number of companies located in various countries such as Mauritius, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands and South Africa. Such is the complex nature of Marange diamonds and as such the inhabitants of the area remain victims of a greedy state and global society.

Brian Maregedze is a Research Associate with Leaders for Africa Network (LAN) and member of the Zimbabwe Historical Association (ZHA). Email;

Source - Brian Maregedze
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