Article by Mufute Tawanda (Atrdt)
For the first time in 9 years Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust (ATRDT) was invited to a round table dialogue with all key stakeholders by the Mutare District Administrator. The meeting was attended by different stakeholders namely, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Zimbabwe National Water Authority, Mutare Rural District Council, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, Office of the President and Cabinet, Ward 3 Councilor (Mutare North) Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust representatives. The round table dialogue’s objective was to discuss the welfare of Arda Transau community.
The office of the District Administrator brought three issues on the agenda namely
- Water crisis
- Electricity bills
- Invaded houses by homeless relocated families (2016)
Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust representatives gave an overview of the state of water in Arda Transau where they cited that the Anjin and Jinan families are failing to pay for the services they are getting from ZINWA and ZESA since no livelihood projects were availed to them. ATRDT also pointed out that most drilled boreholes in the area were condemned, not safe for human consumption while only four boreholes out of 45 have clean and safe water.
Officials from ZINWA presented their operational budget challenges they are facing in Arda Transau. ZINWA cited that they use chemicals worth $5850 per month and highlighted that only 21 accounts are fully paid up in Arda Transau. ZINWA also cited that Anjin mining company owes them $301 332, 01 and the communities owe $143 434 32 as of September 26, 2019.
ZCDC highlighted that they made an agreement with ZESA to clear the electricity bills owed to them by communities. ZCDC apologized to the participants and highlighted that they were paying the bills to the wrong account resulting in ZESA disconnecting the supply.
The Community representatives thanked ZCDC for the gesture and went on to ask them several questions including on whether, it was not their responsibility to provide adequate services to the communities since they inherited the mining concessions from former mining companies who are no longer there. They also asked the office of the District Administrator to avail information pertaining agreements made between Anjin company, Government and ZINWA on how the water system in Arda was going to be managed, a Relocation Development Plan and the Environmental Impact Assessment used in relocating families from Marange to determine who should do what and when.
The District Administrator responded to the request made stating that he never came across those documents requested hence leaving the issue hanging. ZCDC refused to accept responsibilities and cited that it was out of their good will to pay for electricity bills and also said they can only help when funds are available. This statement left community members with questions on whether ZCDC is sincere when it claims that it cares for the community when they are failing to provide services to the same.
The District Administrator brought the issue of invaded houses to the discussion where he said, the families should vacate the houses with immediate effect. The office of the President and ZCDC were in support of this motion. It took time for the parties to understand the issue and it was after a community representative explained the circumstances that led to the families to occupy the houses after six years of being homeless. ATRDT advised the District Administrator to revisit relocation registers and allocates houses to disadvantaged families.
The stakeholders agreed on the following;
- Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust to furnish again the District Administrators office with the list of families who occupied houses
- After the verification of occupants, the District Administrator is to hand over the houses officially to the disadvantaged families
- ZCDC to renovate the houses whilst the occupants are in the houses