Chiadzwa villagers battle malaria outbreak

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
17 April 2014

Villagers in the Chiadzwa alluvial diamond mining area are battling with a serious outbreak of malaria, which is reportedly affecting almost every home.

According to a report by the Financial Gazette puddles of stagnant water, caused by the excessive rains that submerged the alluvial diamond mining pits, have become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, “rendering the Chiadzwa villagers prone to contracting malaria.”

“Almost every home has no less than three to five people who are suffering from malaria. This is because of the pools that have been created by diamond mining,” said the Minister of State for Manicaland Province, Chris Mushohwe.

He was quoted by the Financial Gazette as saying that a team from the Provincial Medical Director office was dispatched recently to examine the villagers.

The malaria outbreak is the latest crisis to hit the embattled area, where over 4,000 families have been left in limbo waiting for relocation away from mining operations. Their relocation was meant to go ahead four years ago when the mining firms moved in to pan for diamonds.

Since then, the area has faced worsening conditions. The villagers, many of whom still live within the mining boundaries, were stopped from growing crops and have been battling a food crisis for several months. At the same time crime has become rampant, with criminal syndicates operating illegal diamond panning rings from surrounding villages.

James Mupfumi, the Acting Director of the Marange based Centre for Research and Development said that the situation is “appalling.” He told SW Radio Africa that the chief concern is the lack of access to food.

“It’s really bad. People can’t grow crops because everything they were promised has not been delivered,” Mupfumi said.

He urged the government to take responsibility for the situation, because it is a joint partner in the mining firms operating in Chiadzwa.

“It is a matter of revenue. The revenue from the diamond mining is not going to government to help the villagers, instead it is benefitting some individuals. So we would have expected the government to stop the mining there, and review the contracts so that revenue transparency and other issues could be dealt with,” Mupfumi said.

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