FORMER Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has accused companies mining diamonds in Chiadzwa of being dishonest and disrespectful of the community they operate in, saying they must honour the pledges they made to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust instead of trying to disown it.
Under the Trust, each firm was to contribute US$10 million to bring the total to US$50 million.
Responding to claims by the firms that they were not aware of the existence of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust that was launched by President Mugabe on July 27, 2012, Cde Kasukuwere accused the companies of dishonesty, saying the Trust was formed with the involvement of various ministries and the respective mining companies.
Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company denied the existence of the trust when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Cde Justice Wadyajena (Zanu-PF) last week.
The then Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu was non-committal when contacted for comment, only saying, “I am not aware of that Trust. When it was launched, I was not in attendance. It is better that you ask those who attended the launch.”
But Minister Kasukuwere came out guns blazing.
“For anybody to try and suggest they were not aware of the legal provisions contained in our laws and the instruments which were gazetted is really, really deceitful,” Minister Kasukuwere — who is now in charge of the Environment, Water and Climate portfolio — said.
“In all the ceremonies that were held, all the ministries — Mines and Mining Development, Local Government and the President’s Office — were all involved in setting up these community trusts.
“For one to say they did not hear or they didn’t know about it is just displaying dishonesty of the highest order. You cannot display dishonesty to this level and the communities of Marange deserve what is due to them. They (the mining companies) must be responsible and show respect.”
Minister Kasukuwere said he could not have fabricated the dummy cheque that was displayed at the launch of the community trust.
“Kasukuwere does not work in a bank to come up with a dummy cheque,” he said. “How do I know the signatures of the bank officials? Let’s be responsible and ensure that the communities are benefiting from their resources, that is the bottom line.”
Cde Kasukuwere said the US$10 million for the community share trust was suggested by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development on the premise that the community could not be given 10 percent shares because the Zimbabwe Mining Development Company, Government’s investment arm, was already in partnership with the companies.
“A community share trust is not formed without sufficient consultation having taken place at official level,” said Minister Kasukuwere. “I am just putting the record straight, what was said in Parliament was devoid of the truth,” he charged.
Minister Kasukuwere said it was unfortunate that the mining companies wanted to create “a very unfortunate impression on a process they were fully aware of and were engaged”.
He said as Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment, he could not have gone ahead with the lunch of something that did not have a basis.
“In any case, we have been on record saying the community of Marange must be supported to set up the US$50 million on the fact that the alluvial diamonds will be finished and the community must be allowed to move forward,” said Minister Kasukuwere.
He said other community share trusts like that of Zimplats, Gwanda and Unki had shown how communities could benefit from their resources.
Minister Kasukuwere said he awaited a chance to be called to Parliament to give his side of the story on the Marange Community Share Trust.
“The work that Parliament is carrying out with regards to Marange Community Trust is a very welcome development which allows the nation to exactly see the level of dishonest that is being displayed by the mining entities, which is being disrespectful,” he said.
“We implore Parliament to ensure that all relevant players in this matter are given the opportunity to put the record straight. I await the opportunity to go to Parliament to put the facts as they are. In the final analysis what is important is that the commitment to that community must be met.”
Heads of the mining firms operating in Marange last week denied that they had agreed to contribute $10 million each towards the community share ownership trusts.
There were five companies at the time the Marange Trust was launched, two other companies have since got concessions bringing the total to seven.
Mbada chairperson, Robert Mhlanga said his organisation was never involved in the setting-up of the Marange-Zimunya community share ownership scheme and never made a pledge at all.
Mr Mhlanga said, at no point did any Government entity or minister approach his organisation regarding contributing to the trust despite claims by then minister of youth, Saviour Kasukuwere, that all five firms that were operating in Marange had pledged $10 million each.
“I was never approached by anyone and let me put this correct, we never made any pledge to the trust but contributed to the trust out of our own understanding about the need to empower the community,” Mhlanga told the committee chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator, Justice Mayor Wadyajena.
Mbada and Marange Resources are the only two firms that have contributed $200,000 each towards the trust.
Anjin board member, Mr Munyaradzi Machacha, told the committee that Minister Kasukuwere had been told there was no money to give the community.
“I personally told Hon Kasukuwere that we had no money to contribute to the trusts at that time and he said we could fulfil it even after five years,” Mr Machacha said.
“This is the first time that I hear about that figure, we agreed at a meeting held by all mining firms to contribute a total figure of $10 million collectively with us agreeing to give $1.5 which the minister, Cde Kasukuwere said we could pay over five years. This $10 million thing is new to me,” Mr Machacha said.
Diamond Mining Corporation general manager, Mr Ramsey Malik, Marange acting chief executive and Jinan head of marketing all expressed ignorance about the need for each of them to contribute $10 million to the community saying as far as they were told, only $1.5 million was required from each of them.
“After the meeting we were told to contribute to the trust but when we tried to make a follow-up with ZMDC we were told not to bother much about it.
“So how do you expect us to help in such a situation where no one is forthcoming to take the money,” Malik said.
Mugabe launched the Marange-Zimunya share ownership scheme in 2012 but until now, no project has been initiated by the trust.
Malik said government should put its house in order if it wants the villagers in the Marange area to benefit from their resources as there was too much confusion.