By Farai Matebvu
Mutare: The return of the Chinese company Anjin Investiments to mine diamonds in the rich area of Chiadzwa after it was booted out by government four years ago is set to spark war with the local communities as it has emerged that the company is refusing to meet community representatives to sort out legacy issues, Centre for Research and Development has sensationally claimed,
The company’s return to the mines in the Marange district of eastern Zimbabwe is generating anxiety among local villagers and human-rights activists who insist the Chinese company is not fit to mine again.
CRD Director James Mupfumi (pictured) told journalists in Mutare this week that Anjin Investiments must attend to all its legacy issues, obligations that have a bearing on Community welfare.
“We understand that Anjin, that looted diamonds in Chiadzwa and never honoured thier debts is coming again to haunt and mine diamonds in the area, barely 4 years after it was halted to operate by government under Robert Mugabe” said Mupfumi
Mupfumi said the company is refusing to meet community representatives to explain how the company is intending to operate and cooperate with the community on both environment and their welfare.
“Looking at the dark past history of the company, we are all sceptic that Anjin is returning. The company must be able to work with to community to avoid conflict” he said. ” The company must show up and resolve all its dues first before opening a new page” added Mupfumi
Before Anjin was halted to mine diamonds in 2015, villagers and activists had accused the company of various human-rights violations and evading payment of taxes and royalties, including degrading the environment and failing corporate social responsibility programs
Mupfumi, who has been documenting various rights abuses by the diamond companies in Marange, said Zimbabwe’s auditor general report of 2016 unearthed some irregularities.
“Our recommendation is that the government must roll out a diamond policy to guide the diamond industry. Anjin must be brought before the law to pay compensation to victims of human-rights abuses,” Mupfumi said.
Anjin is a joint venture between a Chinese company, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Co. Ltd., and Matt Bronze Enterprises, which was formed by the Zimbabwe Defense Ministry and the Zimbabwe Defense Forces, through an intermediary company.
Amalgamated Chiadzwa Communities Development Trust Chairman Key Kasakare said they want the miner to rehabilitate community infrastructure and disturbed concessions
“Our livestock, people are dying and the exotic plants they brought from China are stunting growth of our indeginous trees in Chiadzwa” Kasakare said
He added that government must intervene forthwith and force the company to comply with the community demands, including resuscitating Community livelihoods and degraded land
“Anjin has also relocated from its original portal G to portal B without explanation and due regard to proper procedures, including environmental impact assessment. This is worrying because an independent audit has not been conducted to ascertain funds realised and extenalized by the miner” he said
According to Mutare Rural District council records, Anjin has never remitted a cent to the local authority, which has jurisdiction over the land.
Despite all these, the new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced in January that Anjin and Russia’s Alrosa are the foreign companies that would participate in Zimbabwe’s diamond industry.
When diamonds were discovered in the area in 2006, poor villagers anticipated to benefiting from the lucrative alluvial gems but they said, they are now poorer than before
Livemore Rwizi, a headman in Chirasika of the Marange area, alleged that hope to benefit from diamonds has faded as Anjin and other mining companies were playing cat and mouse games with the community.
“Hopes to benefit from the gemstones have remained a mirage. We are under pressure, we can’t help it anymore” he said
Activists and experts in Zimbabwe are worried of the growing Chinese influence in the country’s critical infrastructure and natural resources.
In 2015, Mugabe’s government booted out diamond companies—Anjin, DMC, Kusena, Mbada Diamonds, Gye Nyame, and Marange Resources—operating in Marange for lack of transparency in their operations.
However, Munyaradzi Machacha, Anjin director, told an American based The Epoch Times recently that his company hadn’t yet been advised by the government to return to the Marange diamond fields.
“We are ready to go back to Marange, but we have not yet been advised [by the government] about the new developments,” Machacha told The Epoch Times.
Machacha has also maintained that Anjin operated above board in Marange and denied allegations of human-rights abuses.