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The State and the Bloody Diamond Rush in Chiadzwa: Unpacking the Contesting Interests in the Development of Illicit Mining and Trading, c.2006–2009

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This article examines the development of diamond mining and trading in Chiadzwa, a communal area in Marange, Zimbabwe. It also examines the nature of the state and its role in the early dynamics of diamond exploitation. Mining development in Chiadzwa had far-reaching political, economic, cultural and moral, as well as epidemiological, demographic and environmental, implications for the Marange landscape. This article unravels the activities surrounding illicit diamond activities in Marange, revealing the different interests involved, their interaction with the state and their impact on the landscape of the diamondiferous area. 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 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.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Economic History Department,University of Zimbabwe, 2: Centre for Population Studies, University of Zimbabwe,

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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