[CAVIE-ACCI] Since diamonds were discovered in the Marange fields in 2001, non-governmental organisations have been looking into abuse and dodgy dealings: The Marange diamond fields are in Chiadzwa, Mutare District, in eastern Zimbabwe. Thousands of people have been displaced to make way for mining operations.
Chinese mining companies and the Harare government made big promises to the displaced people, and their hopes are fading, with people saying they were duped to move out of their ancestral lands.
When Zimbabwean villagers from Chiadzwa were relocated to Agricultural Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Transau, a state-owned farm in Odzi, about 40km from Mutare, to pave way for diamond mining, they were promised better life by both the government and several Chinese mining companies.
The government relocated more than 1,200 villagers from Chiadzwa to ARDA Transau in 2009 after forcibly removing, in a bloody crackdown, more than 20,000 small-scale miners who had invaded the once-rich diamond fields in 2006.
Arable lands, a $5,000 compensation fee, grazing lands, schools and jobs are some of what the relocated residents were promised.
Chinese mining companies that were among the seven companies given mining rights include Jinan and Anjin – a company jointly owned by Chinese company Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Limited and Matt Bronze, a company owned by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
When the government under Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler, the late Robert Mugabe, took over the diamond fields through the newly formed Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC) in 2016, some of the relocated villagers were hopeful that the move would improve their livelihoods.
Anjin was against Mugabe’s move and took his government to court.
In 2019, Anjin joined mining companies ZCDC in Chiadzwa after it was given back its mining license following pressure from Beijing on President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who came to power after Mugabe was toppled through a military coup in November 2017.
Hopes fading away
Many relocated residents say they got an unfair deal. They are living in dilapidated houses while their children are learning in makeshift classes. This is no clean water and few jobs.
“When I relocated to this area in 2010, this house was already cracking,” Jason Musiyanga (40), a father of three, tells the analysts.
Musiyanga, whose name has been changed to protect his identity for fear of reprisal, says no one is coming to his rescue.
“I am living in fear. One day this four-roomed house might just fall while I am asleep with my family,” he says.
Not enough to go around
Nomore Mamombe (51) says his one-hectare piece of land is not enough to accommodate his family of seven children with four of them married.
“Back in Chiadzwa, I had a 16ha piece of land which was enough for my children to build their own houses when they get married. Now we are sharing this four-roomed house,” says Mamombe, whose name has also been changed.
“It is against my Shona culture for me to share the same house with my daughters-in-law.”
Looking for answers
Neither the government nor the companies are claiming responsibility for the hardships of the residents of ARDA Transau.
Each group of villagers was relocated by each of the seven companies that had been granted mining licenses by the government.
Musiyanga was relocated by Anjin, while Mamombe was relocated by Jinan.
Mines minister Winston Chitando did not respond to questions sent to him by The Africa Report.
Anjin secretary Richard Mahoya, in a telephone interview with The Africa Report, requested the questions to be sent to him via email. They were sent, and he acknowledged receipt but he has not yet responded.
No property security
“The Chinese built nearly 1,000 houses for over 1,200 households,” according to the ARDA Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT).
Tawanda Mufute, the ATRDT secretary, says they do not have title deeds to their properties.
“We have made strides for us to get title deeds but our efforts were fruitless. There are fears that if another mineral like gold is found where we are now, we might be relocated again. We do not have any property security,” says Mufute.
Mufute adds that the population has since grown and villagers are now competing for the few available resources.
“Our population is now more than 9,000,” he says.
A single school
The relocated villagers are sharing one school which was constructed by Anjin.
“Our primary school has a population of more than 1,200 pupils. This is against four blocks that were built by Anjin. Parents have also built another block but they are inadequate. Some pupils are learning in makeshifts classes,” Mufute says.
Bas du formulaire
Mufute adds the relocated villagers are yet to be compensated by the Chinese companies.
“In terms of compensation, the families are yet to receive the $5,000 compensation fee which they were promised. They were only given $1,000 as a disturbance allowance when they were relocated,” says Mufute.
No clear lines of responsibility
Mufute says it was not clearly outlined who should be responsible for these relocated Chiadzwa villagers between the government and Anjin.
“It is all about blame games. The government is saying it is the Chinese companies yet the Chinese companies are saying they are waiting to hear from the government,” says Mufute.
‘Pleasing investors at the expense of the indigenous people’
Simiso Mlevu, a communications officer at Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG), says it is the responsibility of the government to take care of the socio-economic needs of the people.
“The predicament of the people of ARDA Transau simply shows that the government does not have people-centric policies,” says Mlevu.
“Our policies are aimed at pleasing the investors at the expense of indigenous people. Indigenous communities need to enjoy economic, cultural and social security in their own country.”
Shamiso Mtisi, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association’s deputy director tells The Africa Report that it is important for the government to comply with constitutional provisions related to evictions of communities.
“Government and companies must provide people with adequate information on displacement implementation plans including associated costs, compensation levels, where people will go, what they will get including timeframes,” he explains.
By Farai Shawn Matiashe
Liberia To Power Its Economy Through Improved Energy Access And Job Creation
[CAVIE-ACCI] Liberia’s efforts to transform the lives of poor people have received a huge boost with financing approved today by the World Bank. Two new operations will increase access to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy, and boost economic recovery by providing employment opportunities and business skills training to vulnerable Liberians.
Funded by the International Development Association (IDA), these projects aims at improving Liberia’s economy and helping to build resilience for vulnerable households that are greatly at risk of falling into poverty due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Poverty remains widespread in Liberia and is now on the rise. An estimated 44% of Liberians were living with less than $2 a day in 2016 and is now projected to reach 52% in 2021. Access to healthcare, education, and basic utilities like energy, are also particularly low compared to the rest of the region.
“Given the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the economy and people’s livelihoods, improved energy access will stimulate inclusive economic growth while support to the informal sector will help the most vulnerable Liberians to recover from the loss in incomes,” said Khwima Nthara, World Bank Country Manager in Liberia.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on Liberia’s economy and people’s livelihoods and poses a major threat going forward. When the global pandemic emerged in early 2020, Liberia was already facing a challenging domestic and external environment. Weak consumption and declining output had caused the Liberian economy to contract by an estimated 2.3 percent in 2019 and a further 2.9 percent in 2020. According to the High-Frequency Phone Survey of Households conducted by the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, more than 70 percent of households reported experiencing food shortage and increased food prices. This call for a comprehensive response focusing both on the need to protect the poor and vulnerable in the short term, as well as support economic recovery in the medium term.
“This is a demonstration of the Bank’s strong commitment to Liberia. The approved package of support will be a big boost to our Covid-19 recovery efforts and our vision to transform the economy through infrastructure development,” said Samuel D. Tweah Jr, Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
The support program includes the following:
The Liberia Electricity Sector Strengthening and Access Project (LESSAP) is the first project of a multi-phase programmatic approach (MPA) with a goal to provide sustainable, reliable, and affordable electricity to 632,500 Liberians. The project will rehabilitate and expand electricity infrastructure and provide sustainable solutions for electricity access. The LESSAP will target mainly two key areas – grid electrification in the greater Monrovia area and provide for a sustainable business model for scaling up renewable energy based mini-grids and stand-alone solar systems in remote areas. It will also deliver off-grid solar electrification to about 200 health facilities in particular to help build resilience against COVID-19. The total financing envelope for the MPA is $180 million in IDA support with the first phase commitment of $44 million in IDA credit and IDA grant of $15 million. The project also includes grant support of $2.5 million from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and $2.7 million from Japan Policy and Human Resources Development Fund (PHRD), both of which will be administered by the World Bank.
The Recovery of Economic Activity for Liberian Informal Sector Employment Project (REALISE) will increase access to employment opportunities for some of the most vulnerable households in the informal sector who are at risk of falling deeper into poverty. The project will provide grants and business skills training to 4,000 vulnerable households to revive or start small businesses, as well as temporary employment and wages to 15,000 poor individuals, half of whom will be women. It will target low-income communities and poor families in Greater Monrovia. REALISE project will be implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment, utilizing implementation capacities developed under the ongoing Liberia Youth Opportunities Project. The project will be financed through IDA concessional terms of $5 million credit and $5 million grant.
*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.