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BREAKING: Demonstrations in diamond-rich Marange

….villagers say enough is enough!

Barnabas Thondhlana

Thousands of Marange communal lands villagers have gathered to express their displeasure at the lack of development in their area.

They are gathered close to the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company site, where they are engaged in running battles with the police.

The ZCDC is a government creation born after the closure of diamond operations in the area and the cancellation of licences for diamond miners – mostly of Chinese extract – who milked the area and made little re-investment for the community.

Despite being resident in what is billed to be the second largest, if not the largest, diamond reserve in the world, the villagers have nothing to show for it.

Information reaching The Observer is that Police in Marange had verbally cleared the demonstration last week, only for a sudden change of heart at the last minute.

“Police in Mutare called on the organizers and gave them a written letter saying they had not cleared the demonstration,” said a community leader who is close to the developments.

“We consulted with the community yesterday and the prevailing view was that the demonstration will go ahead. Whilst we would have wanted a written police clearance we are also guided by the wise counsel of MLK that freedom is never given voluntarily by the oppressed but must be demanded by the oppressed.”

The Marange people started walking to the venue by midnight Sunday and by 3am more than 400 had gathered.

“Early in the morning trucks full of police and soldiers were deployed but they didn’t disrupt the gathering,” said the community leader, speaking over the telephone and on condition of anonymity.

“However later when the police saw thousands upon thousands arriving they started blocking them from proceeding further than Zengeni. The community rightly insisted on its right to be heard.

“A few minutes ago Police fired warning shots into the air and tear gas canisters into the crowd.

“The residents want development in their area and removal of restriction to freedom of movement and association. The situation deteriorating very fast, but the community saying they want to stay put rill end of day tomorrow,” he said.

Millions, if not billions of dollars of diamonds have been mined from the area since 2008, but the only beneficiaries have been politicians, the Chinese, the military, the intelligence services and the police.

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