No to pledges without action, Mushohwe tells diamond firm
Lloyd Gumbo in CHIADZWA
The new Government-owned diamond mining company in Marange must bring development to the local community and take responsibility of the pledges that were made by the companies whose grants were not renewed by Government. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Dr Christopher Mushohwe said this during a tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields by the Parliamentary Porfolio committee on Mines and Energy, yesterday.
The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association sponsored the tour of the committee that is chaired by Zanu-PF MP for Masvingo Urban, Cde Daniel Shumba.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), a wholly Government-owned company is in charge of operations in Chiadzwa after Government did not renew the mining licences for the companies that were mining in Marange and Chimanimani.
Minister Mushohwe, who is the Member of Parliament for Mutare West, said the Marange community had nothing to show for the mining that has been happening in the area for the past 10 years.
“When companies started mining here, people in this area expected a lot because of the promises that were made,” said Dr Mushohwe.
“We expected that they would construct roads, build clinics and schools. But since the mining started, there is not even one classroom block that they have constructed.
“In fact, there was a primary school that was closed, and pupils there in Grade Zero and Grade One walk for about six kilometres to the nearest school.”
Dr Mushohwe said the community was no longer interested in pledges without action. He said families that were yet to be relocated from Marange had no source of livelihood as their fields had been incorporated into the mining fields.
The minister said it was disappointing that the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust had not materialised, despite the pledge that was made by the companies.
He said what was most disturbing was that the companies that had reneged on the Community Share Ownership Trust were quick to drag Government to court after it did not renew their grants.
“We are happy that Government took the decision not to renew the other mines’ grants, but we want the new company to prove that they are a Zimbabwean-owned company that cares for its people.
“My plea to ZMDC is, please start with clinics in this area as a matter of urgency. At the moment, people who are still in Marange are just inhaling dust from the mining operations, yet they have no clinic to go to for medical attention when they get sick from the dust.
“What is important now is for ZCDC to help families in Marange area regardless of production because these people have no source of livelihood. They have suffered enough. We are no longer interested in promises that are never fulfilled,” said Dr Mushohwe.
He said it was important for ZCDC to settle outstanding salaries of all the employees who were affected by the new structure.
Dr Mushohwe said the majority of them had gone for months without salaries well before the companies were kicked out of the mining fields. “We hope that you will not claim that you are not the ones who owe these employees who had not been paid before the companies ceased operations.
“Besides, Government already had 50 percent in all the other companies, so the liability is also on the new company. You should take responsibility,” said Dr Mushohwe.
He also called on the new company to employ more qualified locals so that they can benefit. In his remarks, ZCDC acting chief executive officer, Dr Ridge Nyashanu, said they looked forward to better fortunes that would allow them to plough back to the community.
“As the companies were mining, some of them managed to manoeuvre around the families. So the vision for ZCDC, our initial plan is to get capital to relocate the families and also do some of the CSR activities within the communities,” said Dr Nyashanu.
He said 49,7 percent of their stuff were locals while they also bought of the products such as vegetables from the community.
Dr Nyashanu said ZCDC had so far relocated 23 families to arda Transau where they got a hectare of land, a three-bedroomed house and disturbance allowances to 18 of the families.
He said they also budget capital for corporate social responsibility projects in the community. Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary, Professor Francis Gudyanga and other Government officials attended the tour.