Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
The Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust now controls 10 percent of platinum mining giant Zimplats as part of the firm’s obligation to fulfil requirements of the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.
Zimplats at the weekend said it had recently released US$1,5 million to the trust, meaning it had now contributed the US$10 million it pledged.
The move is in contrast to what is obtaining with the US$50 million Marange-Zimunya CSOT where diamond miners have been dragging their feet and claiming, in some instances, to not even know that the trust exists.
Five diamond mining firms pledged to put up US$10 million each to the trust, which President Mugabe launched.
Ironically, the State has at least 50 percent stake in the diamond firms and owns all of Marange Resources through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, but these companies have been reluctant to comply with a Government programme.
This has raised questions from the public on how Government’s interest in the firms is being managed.
Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema yesterday said the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba community were now “happy shareholders” of Zimplats.
Zimplats spokesperson Ms Busi Chindove said trust board members would meet today at the mine complex near Chegutu to chart the way forward and identify development projects for the community.
Minister Nhema told The Herald: “The trust already holds a 10 percent stake in Zimplats. The community is now entitled to receive 10 percent dividend from the company whenever it declares it. Every year, if Zimplats declares a dividend, they are entitled to 10 percent. They should also have their people sit on the Zimplats board.”
He said it was imperative that the trust exercises its shareholding rights, one of which was to have a board representative.
Minister Nhema said the 10 percent equity was in line with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
“What is important to realise is that the US$10 million seed capital that these companies are giving to the communities has nothing to do with the requirement to have the community have a 10 percent shareholding.
“The US$10 million is in pursuance of a gentlemen’s agreement they had with Government and the 10 percent equity is in terms of the law.
“The US$10 million was meant to operationalise the trust so that communities could also benefit from the resources that these companies are extracting in these communities. It is separate from shareholding.”
Zimplats — with a market value of around US$1 billion — is owned by Impala Platinum (Implats) of South Africa.
Government owns 100 percent of Marange Resources, and has significant shareholding in Anjin Investments, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining
Company and Jinan – who have not honoured pledges made to the Marange-Zimunya Trust.
Minister Nhema said the same conditions that Zimplats had complied with applied to the diamond miners.
The companies have variously claimed not to know the trust, not to have pledged US$10 million each, or to have deposited some money in a bank account supplied by Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Manicaland Christopher Mushowe.
Minister Nhema has said the companies are trying to take Zimbabwe and President Mugabe for a ride and that they must simply honour their pledges.
Addressing a Senate Thematic Committee Committee last month National Indigenisation Economic Empowerment chief executive officer, Mr Wilson Gwatiringa, said 61 CSOTs had been registered and 16 were fully-funded and operational.
Companies pledged US$116,4 million to the trusts.