By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, August 13, 2016 – A total of 53 homeless families relocated from Chiadzwa to Arda Transau Resettlement Area on Thursday took matters into their own hands by forcibly occupying vacant houses that were built by Marange Resources in the resettlement area.
Over 40 families had already settled in the vacant houses while more were expected to grab more premises in which there were 120 unoccupied structures.
Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT) secretary Blessing Mufute told RadioVOP on Thursday that 40 families have already occupied some houses.
“I’m on the ground and can confirm that people have already occupied the vacant houses. I safely say over 40 families have already settled their belongings,” he said.
The occupants are angry that they were forced to abandon their original homes to make way for diamond mining activities in the area only to be settled in smaller homes which cannot accommodate older children who now need their privacy and to start their own families.
One of the affected individuals, Tawanda Mufute said they had no choice but to occupy the houses as they had nowhere to live with their own young families.
“I’m one of the affected. What happened was when we were resettled, we had our own structures at our parents’ compound and when we were moved to Arda, only our parents were given houses. Unfortunately there is not enough room for us to build structures as we used to do back in Chiadzwa. The yards are too small and it’s now becoming a challenge for a family where there are three or more married sons to live in a four or five roomed house.
“Efforts have been made during the past several years to engage both the miners and government but nothing has happened. So we forced our own committee, where we agreed to takes the houses that were lying idle,” said Tawanda Mufute.
This follows after another disgruntled villager who was forced to live under the same roof with his 14 wives for four years after relocation, forcefully grabbed several houses last year.
There are 35 affected families under Mbada Diamonds resettlement scheme while Marange resources and Jinan Mining both have nine to bring the total number to 53.
The development is expected to cause commotion between villagers and government as the latter was expected to accommodate other villagers who are still to be relocated from Chiadzwa.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa had already given a green light for the resumption of the resettlement exercise.
As of 2015, Anjin Investment had relocated 466 families while Jinan Mining moved 129.
Mbada Diamonds resettled 102 families while Marange Resources and DMC have moved 44 and 40 households, respectively.
This is against a total of the 4,300 households that are waiting to be relocated as they are trapped in the vast diamond concession where they are exposed to inhabitable conditions.