Residents here say they were worried following reports that there could be deposits of kimberlite diamonds in the community and surrounding areas.
Villagers fear that the experiences at Marange could be repeated in their community.
The government unleashed the army in a bloody campaign on Marange after thousands of panners swooped on the district following the discovery of diamonds. Locals were later removed to make way proper mining but never fully compensated.
Last week, officials from the State-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) visited Penhalonga and convened a meeting with residents to discuss their intention to carry out exploration work.
The meeting was however, aborted after residents refused to comply, arguing that their local leadership was not present. Residents said they fear that what transpired in Marange could be repeated again in Penhalonga.
Most villagers who were relocated from Marange to Arda Transau in Odzi after the discovery of diamonds are yet to get their full compensation from government.
Most companies which used to operate in the area are now defunct after government consolidated the operations in Marange.
“We are still in panic mode after we were told that there are diamonds in our community. What happened in Marange is still fresh in our minds.
“Most people lost their sources of live livelihood and we feel this can also happen to us,” said Max Bwawo of Tsvingwe.
His sentiments were echoed by Magareta Makuwiri, 45, who said she had invested a lot of money to construct her home in the area.
“I used my pension to construct my house and today we are told there are diamonds here.
“What is worrying me is that will our government be able to adequately compensate us given what happened in Marange.
“Some are now destitute after the discovery of diamond in Marange,” said Makuwiri.
She added that if it was true that there are diamonds in the area, government should not rush to mine but consult extensively about compensation.
Felix Murindagomo said he had invested heavily on his plot in Old Mutare and was worried that he may lose his investments as a result of the planned mining.
“From my experience, I don’t think government can adequately compensate all of us. Some will lose their investments in the process.
“The evaluation process may be biased like what happened in Marange where some people lost out. It’s gambling, but there is nothing we can do,” said Murindagomo.
Mutasa South legislator, Irene Zindi said the aftermath of diamond discovery in Marange and what transpired later left local community in a panic mode.
“Villagers are panicking given what transpired in Marange. What was promised by diamond mining companies was never fulfilled.
“Most people who were located from Marange to Arda Transau never recovered and they lost their source of livelihood,” she said.
Zindi said a lot of locals have invested in properties and they fear they will not be adequately compensated by the mining companies.
She said locals agreed to meet government officials on a platform where all stakeholders would be presented so that they map the way forward.
“Local residents said they want a meeting where all stakeholders including officials from Mines ministry, ZCDC, local authority, District Administrator and the local legislator will be present,” said Zindi.
Credit: All Africa
Published on 11 April 2017 | 2:56 pm at Source