Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government yesterday handed over $5 million for the revitalisation of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Trust as President Mnangagwa’s administration fleshes out empowerment projects to ensure ordinary people benefit from diamond proceeds.
In 2012, diamond mining companies operating in Chiadzwa, Manicaland, pledged $50 million towards the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Trust, but released only $500 000.
Some of the firms, under the supervision of the then Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Mr Saviour Kasukuwere presented dummy cheques to former President Robert Mugabe, while others feigned ignorance of the scheme.
President Mnangagwa yesterday moved in to partly honour the pledge, availing a $5 million cheque to the community empowerment fund through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), a firm wholly-owned by the Government.
The cheque was presented to the Marange-Zumunya CSOT board of trustees, led by Chiefs Zimunya and Marange.
Present during the ceremony were Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Mines and Mining Development Acting Minister July Moyo, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda and ZCDC board members and management.
President Mnangagwa said the fund previously suffered setbacks, but the new impetus would ensure sustainable economic development in Marange and Zimunya.
“This noble initiative by the State mining company will complement Government’s efforts to build developed and progressive communities as we continue with our quest for inclusive growth and broad-based empowerment under the present national development agenda,” he said.
“As highlighted in Vision 2030, my Government remains committed to broad-based empowerment through multi-faceted strategies, including community share ownership trusts.
“To this end, I urge all companies to intensify community development programmes so that communities benefit from the natural resource endowments in their environment.
“This will spur rural development and undoubtedly contribute to the development of strong rural and provincial economies, further resulting in the widespread improvement of the standard of living of our people throughout the country.”
Companies, President Mnangagwa said, should have “harmonious and mutually” beneficial working relationship with communities in their areas of operation.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” he said.
“Government is pleased with the revitalisation of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust as the company has committed to pay reasonable dividend into the trust annually. It is our fervent hope that through this vehicle, some of the developmental needs of these communities will be addressed, further impacting on Manicaland as a whole.”
He said Government was finalising a diamond policy to ensure the mining sub-sector harnessed its full potential and benefit the masses.
Said President Mnangagwa: “The objective of the policy is to facilitate optimisation of the diamond sub-sector through implementation of appropriate strategies throughout the entire value chain from exploration, mining, beneficiation, value addition and marketing as well as to guarantee security and accountability in the sub-sector. The policy seeks, among other things, to create a viable operating environment that attracts foreign and local investment in the diamond industry in line with the country’s vision of achieving increased investment by 2030.”
He said the mining sector contributed more than 60 percent of the nation’s exports and employed thousands of people.
As such, he said, ZCDC should increase its business capacity to impact positively on the economy.
President Mnangagwa said diamonds were a national resource whose proceeds must benefit everyone.
Two years after commencing operations, ZCDC has undertaken several social investment projects in Manicaland.
The firm has upgraded clinics, rehabilitated roads, constructed bridges, drilled boreholes, renovated primary schools and provided bursaries to orphans and disabled children, among other initiatives.
VP Chiwenga said the $5 million gesture was evidence that President Mnangagwa and his team meant business.
“On his inauguration he told us that he was committed to building this country and that Zimbabwe will never be the same again,” he said.
“He has made these promises and sticks to them. He makes sure a problem is solved once he is told of it. Today, he has remembered the problem besetting the people of Manicaland. To him, it is economics first and we talk about politics after there is food on the table.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said there was a lot of discontent in the local community over diamonds.
“The Chiadzwa diamonds generated a lot of international headlines, created excitement across the globe and made far-away businesspeople, greed and corrupt people rich while locals wallowed in poverty,” she said.
“You (President Mnangagwa) have moved to correct this injustice, much to the delight of Manicaland province. In a short period of time, you have swiftly moved in to deliver on the promises made to the Trust and we shall manage this fund and improve our infrastructure in Manicaland.”
On behalf of the Trust, Chief Zimunya said: “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for facilitating that we receive the money. You have done a good job within the few months that you have been in office. We want to assure you that as a Trust we shall ensure the money is used to implement development projects to benefit the entire community. You have led the country with wisdom; we now have peace and development. As such we will support you all the way.”