The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Govt Moots Funding NGOs

Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu yesterday said Government was seriously considering funding non-governmental organisations with interest in diamond mining at Chiadzwa.

Speaking during a review meeting of the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference that was held in Victoria Falls early this month, Minister Mpofu extended an olive branch to hostile NGOs that have been peddling falsehoods about the Chiadzwa diamonds.

He said leaving them to hostile nations was harmful to national interests.

"Why should a Zimbabwean be funded and supported by a foreigner? If we brought our civil society on board on all issues and prepared a budget for them, I think they would be behaving differently. One who pays the piper calls the tune," Minister Mpofu said.

He said Zimbabweans should work together to remove obstacles preventing the country from freely trading its diamonds on the international market.

He added: "We can do it through an administrative decision. We can say all diamond producers should set aside a small levy of about 1 percent for the NGOs.

"As a matter of principle, to make progress we will consider some allocation from the diamond producers towards the civil society. The permanent secretary and his colleagues will work on that and I will persuade the diamond producers."

Minister Mpofu said it was dangerous to leave hostile foreign governments to fund local NGOs.

"We want to plead with local civil society to come home and be part of us. They should be part of us so that we speak the same language," he said.

Minister Mpofu, however, took a swipe at some NGOs who are being paid by foreign governments to frustrate trade in diamonds from Chiadzwa.

"Our civil society is on that kind of misdirected path. We are not obliged to work with them, but we are saying let's work together as Zimbabweans," he said.

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa echoed Minister Mpofu's sentiments and urged the NGOs to desist from raising false allegations against the Chiadzwa diamonds.

"We are all Zimbabweans. We are one. We must work together. Please do not raise false allegations about us. We would want to work with the civil society, but they have been holding the wrong end of the stick," he said.

Delegates described the diamond conference as a major success.

Meanwhile, Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Gift Chimanikire has dismissed allegations that Minister Mpofu amassed wealth by illegal means from the Chiadzwa diamonds.

Addressing the same meeting, he said Minister Mpofu's money was from his own initiatives and entrepreneurship.

"Even when I was appointed deputy minister, ndakawana iripo mari iyoyo.

"Which diamonds are you talking about? Let us not be carried away when it comes to issues to do with diamonds," he pleaded.

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