Tinashe Nyamunda, Lecturer (Economic History, University of Zimbabwe). Ongoing Research: (i) The State and the Diamond rush in Chiadzwa: Transformative implication on migration, violence, and health in the artisanal mining community, 2006-2009.(for the British Academy workshop), and (ii) The State and the displacement of Matebeleland: Citizenship, Belonging and the rise of the Malaicha remittance economy during the Zimbabwe crisis, 1998-2009.
The State and the Diamond rush in Chiadzwa: Transformative implication on migration, violence and health in the artisanal mining community, 2006-2009.
Tinashe Nyamunda (Economic History, UZ)
Patience Mukwambo (Population Studies, UZ)
The diamond rush in Marange, 72 km from the Zimbabwean eastern town of Mutare had numerous implications on the (un)healthy body among the members of the informal community that emerged from a group of artisanal miners that descendent on the area. Given the deepening political and economic crisis that characterized the country at the time, the discovery of diamonds offered some reprieve to both the desperate state and many of its citizens. Consequently, approxiamtely thirty thousand arguably economically displaced people from all over Zimbabwe migrated to the area in search of the precious gem to alleviate their poverty. For its part, the ZANU PF state manipulated these developments, allowing ‘access’ to these people to gain political ground before the 2008 elections in which they were facing the MDC, their toughest political opponents since independence. This ‘access’, however, was heavily monitored by state security forces who occasionally held violent influx control operations but maintained an illicit trade network with those involved in the informal activities. The artisanal miners were eventually violently expelled from the area by a decisive and brutal operation dzokera kumusha (go back home) in December to January 2009. Prior to this expulsion, the community that settled in the Chiadzwa terrain evolved a unique existence. They adapted to illegal settlements in which ideas of health, the body and triumvirate forms of violence adopted a new meaning. The area had no social services in terms of even the simplest structures of accommodation, ablution facicilties and other things. It was very rough and ready in the sense that it was allowed to thrive, with sex workers, traders, artisanal miners and state security forces interacting in complex ways. Away from the simplest health facilities that could offer, for instance condoms, the interaction between sex workers and artisanal miners had negative reproductive health implications. Even the violent operations that took place from time to time that were arguably accepted as necessary, affected unfortunate individuals , some of whom remained to recuperate in the Chiadzwa mountains. Ideas of health and access to health took a different form. Also, the sometimes illegal nature of the activities sometimes invoked a sense of insecurity to the effect that even ideas about basic hygiene evolved. It became ok to spend weeks without bathing and the basic food provisions became precarious, with some of it supplied by some of the informal traders brave enough to find their way into the uncertain landscape. Yet the community persisted and it is the purpose of this study to appreciate the dynamics surrounding the transformed ideas of migration, violence, and health evolving among the artisanal settlement that thrived between 2006 and 2009.