The discovery of diamonds in Marange may have brought fortunes and riches to hundreds of people, most of them who were wallowing in abject poverty, but it has led to an alarming erosion of societal values.
Children and their teachers have abandoned classrooms to camp at Chiadzwa, while workers have also deserted the workshops and factories to search for the precious stones. Women of the oldest profession from across the country have descended on Chiadzwa in search of greener pastures.
But lately, it is the house wives who are deserting their matrimonial homes for diamond dealers and miners who are always awash with money, especially the elusive Greenback and South African Rands.
While it is against Zimbabwean cultural values for married women to engage in extra marital activities in Mutare and Marange diamond dealers and miners are causing havoc at several matrimonial homes.
Research done over the past three months has revealed an alarming numbers of married women who are trekking down to Marange not to sell any wares but to engage in illicit relationships with diamond dealers and miners.
Similarly, most Zimbabwean young women have moved into the homes of foreigners who are in Mutare to buy diamonds.
Most of the buyers are from the Middle East, Belgium , West Africa and North Africa .
The illicit relationships fuelled by the illegal diamond trade have stoked fears of an upsurge in HIV-Aids infections in a country already reeling from the effects of the scourge.
“The biggest problem is that most of the people involved in the diamond business are very informal persons who are prone to casual sexual tendencies,” said Morris Gonda, a community development worker. “These are people who do not know about safe sex and the dangers of multiple sexual partners. What it essentially means is that married women who are involved in illicit love affairs with these guys are exposing their families to the dangers of HIV-Aids and this may have devastating effects to the society at large.”
Gonda said health workers should cast their nets much wider to include diamond dealers and miners to make them aware of the dangers they pose to the communities.
A marriage counsel who refused to be named said their office was failing to cope with the increasing number of couples fighting as a result of cases of infidelity which at most times involves diamond dealers or miners.
“You will always hear that a diamond person is the source of the quarrel between married couples,” said the marriage counsel, a middle aged woman.
A court official at the civic courts in Mutare said on a daily basis they were handling at least five cases of couple divorcing as a result of infidelity involving the wife.
“Its alarming now,” said the court official, “At the rate things are happening it’s almost a crisis now.”
Several people interviewed in Mutare’s poor townships of Sakubva, Dangamvura and Chikanga said they were worried about the level of promiscuity involving married women especially with cash rich diamond dealers and miners.
“They pretend to be going to sell wares in Chiadzwa and the Marange area yet they are involved in love affairs with dealers and gwejas,” said Tendai Mbodza from Sakubva. Illegal diamond miners are commonly referred to as Gwejas.
Abraham Mhlanga from Dangamvura, a middle class township, said he was not surprised most men now do not allow their wives to go to Marange to sell wares.
“Those guys have money,” Mhlanga said, referring to the diamond dealers and miners, “Imagine a person who never even dreamt he will handle $100US holding a wad of $100 000 US . That person can do anything with that money including spending it on women, married or single.”
A clear diamond can fetch up to $2000US per carat depending on the clarity of the stone.
Hundreds of young people are now driving latest vehicles only found on the streets of HollyHood in the United States.