STAKEHOLDERS from the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) are worried if the US$50 million pledged by diamond mining companies when the trust was set up will be paid up in full anytime soon.With reports indicating that alluvial diamonds in Marange are running out and that the mining companies are in need of capitalisation in order to reach under-the- ground gems, the stakeholders are starting to question.
When CSOT was launched in July 2012, communities under chiefs Zimunya and Marange were set to receive US$50 million from Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments, DMC and Marange Resources but only US$400 000 — US$ 200 000 each from Anjin and Marange Resources — has so far been disbused to the trust.
Chief Gilbert Marange, the chairperson of the CSOT, said the communities were livid about the companies’ underperformance.
“We are obviously not happy with the slow pace of delivery and non-compliance by the companies. It seems the President lied but we all know that zvinotaurwa naVaMugabe ndizvo zvinoitwa (what the President says goes),” he said.
Despite the presence of the precious mineral resources, the Marange-Zimunya community members are still wallowing in under-development. The state of roads, clinics and schools demand urgent attention and Zimunya and Marange rural district councils were banking on this trust to ensure quality services to the communities.
In Marange, a rickety bridge left hanging by cyclone Eline 13 years ago remains the two districts’ only link to the outside world. The companies creaming arid Marange which lies in Zimbabwe’s Region V use it on a daily basis.
Ordinary people are now asking how government could fail to push the diamond miners to honour their pledge and make things happen as the area has not realised any positive development.
The CSOT established to champion community development through provision, operation and maintenance of schools, hospitals and health care services and development projects such as building dams and roads is failing the people of Marange.
Weeks after having requested e-mailed questions and promising to respond, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) corporate affairs director, Charity Tambandini had by the time of going to print not responded.
ZMDC holds substantial equity in all the companies on behalf of the government in some cases up to majority shareholding.
The CSOTs are in line with the provisions of the 4th Schedule of Section 16 of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which seeks to ensure accelerated rural development.
Christopher Mushowe, the Provincial Governor and Resident Minister, said government as a major shareholder in all the diamond mines is equally culpable.
“Beyond being told of the amount we have no further details. Government is equally culpable because we are a major shareholder and have a say on how or when the money is made available. We have an obligation as a government to make sure the companies honour their pledge because the state owns 50 percent in the mines,” Mushowe said.
Indigenisation Minister Francis Nhema could not shed light or explain the delays. Neither could he provide timeframes as to when the Trust is expected to be operational.
“We are working on a comprehensive analysis of all CSOTs and we will present a comprehensive analysis once we are done, only then will we all be able to ascertain what is happening,” said Nhema.
Secrecy and lack of transparency have dogged diamond mining in Marange minefields. The African Development Bank (AFDB) confirmed this in a study.
“Key challenges (include) transparency, corruption and excessive or poorly functioning government bureaucracy,” the AFDB said.
Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association’s Shamiso Mtisi said the minerals have become a curse and not a blessing.
“Diamond miners have brought nothing but misery to the people of Manicaland and the gems now seem nothing but a curse,” said Mtisi.
Despite the promise of a life changing US$50 million, the two districts of Zimunya-Marange remain out-posts of famine in Zimbabwe’s dry region five with no indication that it will move in any direction soon.
As the sun goes down over the horizon, the allure of diamonds also fades away and the glitter that attracted the good, the bad and the ugly diamond wheelers and dealers is slowly disappearing into the distance. — Staff Reporter.