Solomon Mungure

The Social, Economic and Environmental Implications of Diamond Mining in Chiadzwa

The primary agendas in the public domain were to comprehensively address the challenges of formal and informal miners in Chiadzwa and at the same time ensuring sustainable livelihoods for the villagers and national economic recovery. In Chiadzwa, the intrusion of mining, displaced the cultural and social mosaic while privatizing the commons and subjecting the villagers to several risks and harms with minimal benefits. As indicated by the existence of clandestine networks, the clandestine involvement of the state and its stakes in the formal and informal diamond economy, makes underhand diamond economy injurious to the prospective diamond-anchored economic resurgence. There is a general outcry locally, nationally and internationally about the opaque nature of the diamond mining proceed and the benefit sharing arrangements. Evidence exists that the Chiadzwa diamond deposits could really transform the national and local economic fortunes of Zimbabwe and Chiadzwa respectively. Demilitarization, close monitoring of the diamond trade, appropriate declaration and repatriation of diamond revenues together with normalizations of relations with the western diamond markets will certainly see the Zimbabwean diamonds turning around the economy. The extractive nature of the diamond industry however should be accompanied with appropriate observance of environmental laws, appropriate corporate social responsibility, legislative reforms and transparent accountability by all stakeholders.

The Social, Economic and Environmental Implications of Diamond Mining in Chiadzwa

"Diamond mining in Chiadzwa started as an illegal activity carried out by members of the community who were attempting to find alternative sources of livelihood. It is said that by 2006, De Beers (a South African Diamond Mining Company) had undertaken some feasibility studies and prospecting in Chiadzwa after being granted a prospecting order by the government. The presence of diamonds was not overtly declared but some illicit visits by De Beers’ staff prompted locals into finding out that there were diamonds in the area. Although locals realised that the stones were valuable, they were not aware of the exact value of the diamonds. For this reason they traded the diamonds for such commodities as soft drinks or cigarettes in what can be said to have been some form of barter trade. However local community members soon became aware that the mineral was very valuable and this led to what can best be described as ‘a diamond rush.’ What started as an alternative means of survival soon attracted the attention of the international community with buyers and miners coming from far and wide. When government eventually intervened, many people had already firmly established themselves in the diamond mining and trading activity. It is a dichotomy that at inception the government seem not to realise the illegal activity. Later however, the same government harassed and arrested community members who were involved in diamond mining and trading. The ensuing conflict led to many people being killed during a military clean-up exercise of the area at the end of 2008. The project sought to document the progression of events in Chiadzwa in terms of diamond mining and trading, the socio-economic and environmental impacts and the conflict between authorities, (government agencies) and the local communities. The project has as its objective to inform the degree of adherence to the doctrine of “Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources.” It is hoped that the project will inform community members of their rights in relation to natural resource allocation and development."