via Marange diamond firms refuse to pay – New Zimbabwe 07/05/2015
CONFUSION continues to rock the government’s much-touted community share ownership trusts as it emerged Thursday that most of the agreements have not been fulfilled.
The trusts are a key part of the government’s indigenisation programmes. Foreign companies are compelled to put money into the schemes which would be used for community development projects in the areas they operate.
Diamond mining companies in Manicaland were supposed to pay US$10 million each into the Marange-Zimunya in a scheme confirmed by President Robert Mugabe in 2012.
However, appearing before the sector parliamentary committee Thursday, officials from the economic empowerment ministry said the diamond miners were not willing to pay because there was no written agreement obliging them to do so.
Acting secretary for Youth and Indigenisation Simon Masango told the committee chaired by Zanu PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya Justice Mayor Wadyajena that diamond companies in Marange were reluctant to honour the US$10 million dummy cheques displayed President Mugabe at the launch of the scheme.
“We all thought that they would honour the pledges but only two out of six companies at least paid something to the community.
“This is largely because there was no written agreement which obliged these companies to do so,” said Masango.
Pressed to explain claims by former indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere that there were letters ordering diamond companies to pay $10 million each, Masango said “as far as I know, there is no documentation which suggests that there were written agreements or letters to that effect.”
An official from the ministry of Mines said they were not invited to the launch of the Marange-Zimunya trust despite claims by Kasukuwere that the then Mines minister, Obert Mpofu was aware of the programme but just decided to snub it.
The parliamentary committee is continuing investigations into the manner in which the community share ownership trust and youth funds were managed by government under Kasukuwere.
Thursday’s evidence from junior officers was in line with what was said before the same committee by then indigenisation minister, Francis Nhema that all the country’s empowerment deals were made verbally without any written agreement.
This prompted MPs such as Beata Nyamupinga to quiz government whether it was serious in empowering its citizens through community share ownership schemes to which Masango said “there is need for re-negotiations to ensure that these companies honour their pledges”.
His said the current minister, Chris Mushowe together with his counterpart from the mines have engaged the diamond companies so that the communities could at least “get something”.
However, the companies are said to be folding as the gems are said to have been finished. The lawmakers said government should take the blame for having exposed vulnerable communities to exploitation.