By Martin Muleya
ODZI-The Zimbabwe Government in 2011 promised Chiadzwa villagers who had been relocated from their homes in the rich Chiadzwa diamond fields, Bocha to ARDA Transau in Odzi anticipating a better life.
Ten years down the line, ARDA Transau now has become home to more than 5041 households and four other villages including 1001 families which were relocated from Marange and 111 families comprising of ex farm workers all living in abject poverty.
Before the relocation exercise started under the watch of the then late former President Robert Mugabe, the villagers were promised accomodation, proper health and educational facilities among other basic necessities by current President who was minister of defense then.
Mining companies who took over their ancestral land in Bocha following the discovery of diamond promised to look after them, yet today there is very minute of what they had been promised.
The ARDA farm spans 1200 hectares and runs along Odzi river. The farm was highly a productive farming area, under irrigation and was divided into grazing and farming zones that produced much for Manicaland and the country as a whole.
Agricultural Relocation Development Trust ARDT Chairperson Moses Mujuru, confided to journalists in Manicaland during a media tour organised by Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) that when the mining companies approached them while still in Bocha, Marange they solemnly promised them that they would get fertilizers, disturbance allowances among other things.
“When we were relocated some of the things were partially fulfilled but then we had problems acquiring a graveyard to bury our loved ones, we were later given a place to bury our loved ones by officials from Ministry of Lands. But we still have a challenge in accessing clean water as it is electricity drawn and we owe the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company large amounts of money that we are failing to settle.
“We have water challenges, we were not allowed to have wells neither were we allowed to have a garden, yet our survival is on domestic farming and that alone needs water.
Two drilled boreholes for us are not enough. Our houses are not even adequate and we doubt if we are ever going to have more housing units constructed for our children. Some stay in a four-roomed house numbering 14 people while there ate empty hpuses which are in their dilapidating state.
We have a nearby Wellington primary school, its enrolment is just not meeting the demand for blocks for learning for our children,” said Mujuru.
He said the primary school enrolls 1500 pupils but the blocks for learning are inadequate.
As promised, Mujuru said all the 4000 households would all get compensation. He admitted that Government did an evaluation of their properties per household, although some people later came and accorded themselves prices of land to build their own houses which resulted in the relocated families losing their grazing areas in the process.
Chief Zimunya born Kiben Bvirindi when contacted for comment said the relocation of Chiadzwa villagers was done without him being consulted first or at least being advised of the development.
He said he only knew about the presence of the villagers in his land after the Chief Marange (Gibson Marange) briefed him about what Government intended to do.
“I only saw our former Governor and Resident Minister Chris Mushohwe coming with the diamond mining companies that constructed houses for these villagers, personally I was not approached as the traditional leader within which the farm falls under my jurisdiction and thus I maintained my golden silence.
“It was only recently when two diamond companies (Anjin Investments and ZCDC) approached my court and told me that they erred in constructing houses without my blessings.
I await the villagers to come with their chief so we chat way forward,” retorted Chief Zimunya.
He vowed never to move an inch unless the mining companies and the villagers climb down from their high horses.
Ward 3 Councillor Moses Mujaji (Zanu Pf) weighed in on concurring that there was shortage of water in all the five villages drawing water from Odzi. He said the water is pumped by Zinwa with ZETDC supply the energy for the pumps.
“We are indebt with ZETDC which we are failing to pay because ZETDC charges us using the commercial rate. Zinwa is also charging us commercial so our plea is that if we could be charged using domestic rates maybe it could be affordable because we do not have reliable source of income, occupying one hectare constituting a house, toilet and farming area.
We have an arrear of US$353 000 and ZETDC required us to pay at least 25percent of the whole amount for us to have our power back. They switched off electricity for us last year on the 25th of November,” said cllr Mujaji.
Residents in this area, earlier cited blackmailers amongst themselves, people who go to government offices and get bribed behind the people backs.
They bemoaned the promises made during their relocation, as companies snd government, Emmerson Mnangagwa in particular in failing to fulfill what he said when they left their diamond rich ancestral land.
“The current President came here years ago, in 2009 with 2 litres of cooking oil, packetvof rice, bar of soap and 10kg of mealie meal, up to today we don’t know him here, the companies that promised to cater for us here did not fulfill their promises, hence this water and electricity bill,” said one female villager.
Some complained over employment of people at the mine, which never happened and their children ate now destitutes.
“The diamond companies would employ us for 3 months and fire us on condition of having known and accessed the precious stone ‘ngoda’ during the diamond rush,” said one male youth who participated during the meeting.
A Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education official who spoke to Post On Sunday highlighted that Wellington Primary School was failing to cope with the enrollment of young children to attend the school forcing the headmaster to use the nearby church as a make-shift classroom to accommodate the young children for ECD.
Other school pupils are enrolled at Odzi a walking distance and children have to go look for fire wood to sell to school teachers so that they are also able to get few of their needs.
With the current law, not to cut down trees, both women and men struggle to make sure they have fire wood for domestic use.
The school’s enrollment was standing at 510 pupils, with the school’s pass rate since 2019 having not surpassed 30 percent.
“The company that constructed Wellington school had promised to build houses for teachers but the programme was abandoned mid-way, 90 percent of teachers at Wellington Primary are commuting from Mutare and this development has dug deep into their pockets as they use their personal monies to shuttle to and from school daily.
“In this day of Information Communication and Technology, no child should be left behind, but with the amount of fees being paid by the parents cannot even buy a computer.
We tried to purchase computers with the small monies that parents contributed but we only managed to buy furniture,” narrated the Education official.
Apart from a school project on teacher houses that was abandoned mid way, the Arda Transau community had one of the mining companies constructing for them a mothers waiting room for women who would be experiencing labour pains.
Cllr Mujaji noted that they had approached Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamomd Company to help finish the building and they forwarded the Bill of Quantities as well, a development that the mining company assured they would look into. He attributed the delay of the building being completed as due to inflation and the delay of the devolution funds by Mutare Rural District Council.
“We were given US$22 000 to construct the mothers waiting room although the money got exhausted whilst we were still at gabble level. The delay in purchasing the building materials was primarily because of the procurement process whilst inflation was rising. We need more cement, door frames, roofing sheets and paint. This is one unfinished project here at Arda Transau.
“We were offered fish project by Aqua Culture as an income generating project but this project died a still birth mainly because our supply of water was cut off because of the debt we have at ZETDC. We have five villages from Odzi being treated by ZINWA but pumped by ZETDC. We are failing to pay that debt because we do not have a decent income.
The five villages in Odzi Ward 3 rely mostly in Odzi river as their source of water, which is then treated by ZINWA and pumped into their households by ZETDC. This state of affairs has seen some villagers walking more than three kilometres to access three boreholes which are inadequate to cater for the whole community.
Other desperate villagers are now fetching water from unprotected sources, raising the spectre of disease out break.
Water is a basic human right and feared situation is that of an outbreak, the community may witness water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Mujuru appealed to government and its developing partners to intervene by drilling more boreholes.
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