Pay up, diamond mining firms told
Tendai Mugabe and Lloyd Gumbo
Zimbabweans yesterday urged all mining companies to honour their pledges and operationalise the 59 Community Share Ownership Trusts launched by President Mugabe over the past three years.
The funding is in line with Statutory Instrument 114 of 2011, which requires mining companies complying with indigenisation and empowerment regulations to dispose shares to designated entities, with at least 10 percent of the shareholding going to CSOTs.
Government sources yesterday said the Office of the President and Cabinet wanted all mining companies to honour their pledges.
Community Share Ownership Trusts were established in terms of Section 14B of the Economic Empowerment (General) Regulations of 2010 which provide that local communities whose natural resources are being exploited by any ‘‘qualifying business’’ must be guaranteed shareholding in such business.
The analysts spoke in the wake of divergent comments on the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust launched by President Mugabe on July 25 2012 where all the five companies operating in the area pledged to contribute US$10 million each to the Trust.
Last week, the mining companies told Parliament that they were not aware of the Marange-Zimunya CSOT and had not made any pledges towards its implementation.
Social commentator Mr Godwine Mureriwa said the diamond mining companies had no choice but to comply with the law.
“It is not a question of what they pledged, but it is mandatory for them to give to the communities,” he said. “Zim Asset is very clear about the need to empower indigenous Zimbabweans and to indigenise the economy.
“President Mugabe has been consistent about the need to make sure locals benefit from mineral resources. People should realise that mineral resources do not reproduce. They must cater for current and generations to come.
“They should not take those things lightly. If they can’t fulfil that then I do not see why Government should be tolerant. They must know that there is competition out there. We have to be fair in sharing profits from diamonds by ensuring that communities benefit.”
Zanu-PF spokesperson Cde Rugare Gumbo said there was need to set up a taskforce that would establish facts about the Trust.
“The position is that we feel there should be a thorough investigation of what transpired so that facts can speak for themselves,” he said.
“The problem is that at the moment there is so much speculation which results in unfortunate judgments. The companies are making those allegations, but the minister has also said what he has said.
“We want to avoid a situation where people rush to make statements which they cannot substantiate.”
University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Charity Manyeruke said ignorance of the law was no defence and the mining companies should comply with the law.
“We are not worried about the past, now that they know the law, they should meet their obligations,” she said.
“They have an obligation to pay because that is the process in the whole indigenisation and empowerment process.
“We have seen it happening in Zvishavane, Unki and Chegutu, among other areas.”
Dr Lawton Hikwa from the National University of Science and Technology said the mining companies made the pledges in terms of the law and they should implement what they agreed on.
He said failure to honour the pledges was defying the country’s laws and measures should be taken.
“If they are now saying they did not pledge, it is a clear defiance towards the application of the law,” he said.
“If others have implemented it, why should some make excuses?”
Former Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday cleared the air, saying the launch of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust was done above board and all responsible ministries were involved and represented at the launch.
However former Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu – who on Monday said he was not aware of the existence of the Trust – remained non-committal yesterday.
“Talk to the miners (diamond companies). I am Minister of Transport (and Infrastructural Development). Why don’t you talk to the minister of Mines (and Mining Development?)
“These are official issues. Miners have already spoken, so what else do you want?” he asked.
Although his response suggested that he was in agreement with the mining companies in Marange, he participated at the launch of several CSOTs launched by the President.
He attended the launch the Chegutu, Mhondoro-Ngezi and Zvimba Community trusts in 2011 where he said the mining sector had failed to transform into meaningful direct benefits to communities.
At the launch of seven community share ownership trusts in Hwange by President Mugabe in October 2012, Dr Mpofu said chiefs from Matabeleland North, especially in Victoria Falls, had approached him to express concerns over the destruction of crops and human lives by elephants and lions in their areas.
Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema could not be reached for comment, but an official at the ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity said the ministry had since instructed the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board to establish the reasons for the conflicting facts coming from the diamond mining companies and the ministers.
“What the ministry wants is to get facts. There is now confusion on what happened because of these conflicting statements,” said the source.
“NIEEB will be expected to get certificates if any or minutes of what transpired during those alleged meetings.”
Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator – Zanu-PF) who chairs the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Committee yesterday said they would produce a report and present it to the House.
“The committee will produce a report and submit it to Parliament and not to any minister, the Press or anyone else,’ he said.
“The committee advises the press to contact Minister Kasukuwere or any other minister they wish to seek clarification from.”
He was also there at the launch of seven CSOTs by President Mugabe in October 2012.
Incumbent Minister of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Francis Nhema could not be reached for comment but an official at the ministry – speaking on condition of anonymity – said they had already instructed the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board to establish the reasons for the conflicting facts coming from the diamond mining companies and the ministers concerned.
“What the ministry wants is to get facts. There is now confusion on what happened because of these conflicting statements.
“NIEEB will be expected to get certificates, if any, or minutes of what transpired during those alleged meetings,” said the senior ministry official.
Zanu-PF legislator for Gokwe-Nembudziya Cde Justice Wadyajena, who chairs the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Parliamentary Portfolio Committee, yesterday said they would produce a report on their findings during deliberations on the diamond saga.
“The committee will produce a report and submit it to Parliament and not to any minister, the Press or anyone else.
“The committee advises the Press to contact Minister Kasukuwere or any other minister they wish to seek clarification from them,” he said in an emailed response to questions from The Herald.