Marange area is located in the mountainous border town of Mutare under Manicaland province in Zimbabwe. Marange is traditionally administered by the Marange chieftaincy. It is located about 100 km south-west of Mutare city. The area is predominantly home to the Manyika speaking Marange people. Marange came to prominence between 2002 and 2003 when the first diamond fields were discovered in the Chiadzwa area.The discovery of diamonds in Marange led to the Chiadzwa diamond Rush which attracted , national , regional and global attention.
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti described the 60,000 hectare Marange diamond fields as the biggest find of alluvial diamonds in the history of mankind. Potential revenue is estimated at US$1 billion-US$1.7 billion a year.
A number of companies have since the beginning of the 21st century established themselves in the mining of diamonds in the Marange area of Mutare. These include, Mbada Diamonds Private Limited, Anjin and Marange Resources.
Chiadzwa is an area which falls under Marange. It was well known for its vast diamond reserves and alluvial mining. Chiadzwa was at the centre of activity between 2003 and 2006 due to massive informal diamond mining which was taking place. The area attracted informal miners and mineral dealers from all corners of the country which somewhat resulted in a chaotic experiences..
From March 2006, Chiadzwa – located some 80 kilometres from the eastern town of Mutare – literally and metaphorically became a terrain of contestation following the ‘discovery’ of diamonds. Numerous interests converged on the area seeking to exploit the diamonds, systematically displacing the interests and hegemony of the original, mostly apostolic, inhabitants of Marange.
The diamond rush fever gripped Zimbabweans as reports surfaced that huge diamond deposits had been discovered in the Chiadzwa area. The diamond craze also attracted Hararians and other urban dwellers. A number of people went to dig for the alluvial diamonds that were near the surface, while others obtained diamonds from Chiadzwa residents in return for bartering basic food commodities that were in short supply such as rice and cooking oil.
When the Diamonds were discovered , and ZANU-PF effectively encouraged a diamond rush by declaring the fields open to anyone to mine. By November 2006, however, a nationwide police operation was launched to clamp down on illegal mining across the country, including in Marange. Police assumed control of the diamond fields; but, rather than halt illegal mining and trade, they exacerbated and exploited the lawlessness on the fields.
The discovery also unleashed state violence on these groups, who evolved coping strategies in their efforts to continue benefiting from the resource, until a decisive police and army operation, ‘Dzokera Kumusha’ (Go Back Home), violently expelled the majority of artisanal miners from Chiadzwa in January 2009. This operation was an attempt by the state to regulate the diamond mining and trading process, in order to allow the registered mining companies it favoured to move in and start mining operations.
Alleged human rights abuses
It was alleged that with the assistance of the military Robert Mugabe the former president of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF, engaged in forced labor of children and adults, torturing and beating local villagers on the diamond fields of Marange district. The military seized control of these diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe after killing more than 200 people in Chiadzwa, a previously peaceful but impoverished part of Marange, in late October 2008. With the complicity of ZANU-PF, Marange became a zone of lawlessness and impunity, a microcosm of the chaos and desperation that led the decay of the moral fiber of the Marange rural community.
There have been accusations of human rights abuse by government forces in the mining of diamonds in the Marange and Chiadzwa areas of Mutare. There reports of killing of the so called illegal miners by the police in their bid to bring the diamond fields under state control. There were also allegations of forced displacements of the local Marange people from their traditional homesteads to pave way for the coming of commercial mining companies.
Marange is mentioned on p30 Cartel Power Dynamics in Zimbabwe under the Case Study 5 The Mining Cartels.
The looting of Marange diamonds is a well studied case that does not need repeating. Mugabe, Obert Mpofu and elites in the military, police, Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) enriched themselves through diamond mining ventures in which local entities formed joint ventures with Chinese, Russian, South African and Lebanese investors.(Human Rights Watch. Diamonds in the Rough: Human Rights Abuses in the Marange Diamond Fields of Zimbabwe. Human Rights Watch 2009.), (Partnership Africa Canada. Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Field. Partnership Africa Canada, 2012.), (Towriss, David. Buying Loyalty: Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamonds. Journal of Southern African Studies 39 (1): 99-117. 2013. ) Following substantial depletion of the alluvial diamonds in Marange, (Mhlanga, F. Diamond output hits rock bottom. The Independent, 23 October 2015.) cartels have shifted their attention to the gold, nickel and platinum deposits.
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