(Podcast ) Artisanal Mining , A Blessing and A Curse Part 1 – Marange, Zimbabwe

Artisanal Mining , A Blessing and A Curse – Marange Zimbabwe
By Billian Matambo
August 2018

Voice Note 1
Hello everybody my name is Billian Matambo a Zimbabwean by nationality and I’m from Manicaland province from the popular Marange area where diamonds are being mined.
I am a member of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU
Community activists in Marange are monitoring the problem of the so called “illegal diamond mining” which we prefer to all “artisanal mining
We have a big problem with young people in our community engaging in mining, which the government and mine companies sees as “illegal mining” We call this “artisanal” mining
The issue of artisanal mining is now a pandemic that seems incurable.
Poverty is the major cause that is sending every young man to join this dangerous industry
Since the closure of companies in 2016 most locals are unemployed
And there is no other alternative that can put food on the table
Marange is region 5 and in terms of economic perineal poor half percent in huge areas   which used to subsidise survival no longer offers any alternative
Some of the farming land and grazing pastures were been taken by diamond companies

Voice Note 2
Being an artisanal miner in Chiadzwa Marange is as good as signing your own death penalty.
The torture and brutality including dogs being set on innocent illegal miners trying to earn a living left nothing to be desired about Chiadzwa  Marange
There is a lot of human rights violation and killings and on the 29 December 2017 We witnessed the brutality murder of an illegal miner by a company security detail
Malvern Mudiwa Malmud a community leader reports
“Shooting of innocent people in Diamond mining fields of Marange in Zimbabwe is still continuing, with the most recent brutally cold blood shooting of Tafadzwa Mavhiza on the eve of Friday 20th October 2017 by ZCDC security guards. The body was discovered three day later in the state of decomposition; the body is still in the Mutare General Hospital mortuary awaiting post-mortem.”
Not only artisanal miners are being arrested but also locals who resides in the mining concessions are under the tight grip of restriction of movement

Refias Sithole reports
On the 14th of December 2017 some of the overzealous security guards from ZCDC caught up with one of our villagers ,Tichaona Mharira from Betera. He was caught in the morning while he was doing his  everyday work in his farming fields . They tied both his hands and legs together before setting their dogs on him while they watched. They also seriously assaulted him with big sticks all over his body. He sustained deep serious injuries and wounds from these dog bites. 

Josphat Makaza reports
On 29th day of December 2017 an illegal diamond panner was brutally murdered by a company security detail .Company security dog handlers  arrested 11 illegal diamond prospectors in the ‘red zone’ area. The accused persons were taken to the police base. From there they were transported to the security base where they were brutally beaten again. Eight of the accused managed to escape and three couldn’t walk properly and fell down. One of those who did not escaped died from his injuries.

Voice Note 3
Due to this disgruntlement we witnessed a 3 hour protest this year by the people of Marange. This demonstration points to a society that is resurrected from being passive observers in socio economic issues of our area
The first demonstration was held on the 7 February 2018 where community blocked the roads to the mining concessions. No vehicles were allowed to either enter in or oThe matters that sparked the protests ranges from
unemployment of the locals, harassment of locals by ZCDC security guards, protected areas and places Act which supress locals and rob everyone’s of freedom of movement making us aliens in our own land,
lack of social corporate social responsibility by the mining company and also mine pollution which robs us of our constitutional rights to a clean and healthy environment.

Voice Note 4
After the first protest the ZCDC promised heaven on earth to locals only to find out tha
everything was better said than done which led to the second demonstration on the 23 April 2018 And on the day people were also angry about the vandelisation of tombstones and graves by artisanal miners in search of diamonds.
The community liaison officer Mr Watungwa of the ZCDC, promised tombstone renovations and 24-hour shrine security. But again this was a blue lie and a good way of silencing the community
As a face saver ZCDC hosted its first multi-stake holder diamond conference on the 1st June 2018 in a bid to address community concerns. To me it was one of those talk shows because up to now nothing materialised
And the bitterness of being taken for granted sent the people to demonstrate again on the 5th July with the same grievances still unaddressed The mining companies are playing hide and seek with the community. The sad part being that ZCDC is 100 government owned with politics playing the major role and the company playing the divide and rule tactic and tearing apart the community

Voice Note 5
And now my questions are who is going to sue the government for perpetrating against its own people if the government is the lawbreaker if the government is the looter
who is going to be the voice of the voiceless? we are like ants trodden under the heavy elephant feet We are calling for ZCDC and government to close the gap between laws and practise
To close the gap between laws and promises and implementation

That’s all from me
I am Billian Matambo