The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Marange-Zimunya Trust Gobbles U.S.$45 000

Trustees of Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust gobbled about US$45 000 that was donated by diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa towards the scheme on allowances, training and travelling, parliamentarians heard yesterday. Appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu-PF), the said trustees confessed they were still to start projects on the ground, but US$45 000 had already been spent.

Trustee chairperson Chief Marange, Chief Zimunya, secretary to the trust Mr Shepherd Chinaka and other officials said they had received US$400 000 from Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources in June last year for the trust.

Mr Chinaka said they also got an extra US$17 000 after investing the money while waiting to start the actual projects.

They disclosed this after MPs grilled them on why the total amount had come down to US$371 000 yet no projects had started on the ground.

"When Parliament summons you, we expect you to tell the truth because you are under oath and if, by any chance, it is discovered that you lied under oath then you will be arrested," warned Cde Wadyajena.

Makoni West MP Cde Kudzanai Chipanga and Chipinge South representative Cde Enock Porusingazi demanded that the officials give a breakdown of how they spent the money and to avail the receipts.

"Income-Mbada (Diamonds) US$200 000, Marange Resources US$200 000, interest on current account US$123, interest on investment US$17 475, total US$417 598.

"Expenditure-bank charges US$345, stationary US$201, training US$12, 943, travelling and subsistence US$14, 404, fuels and oils US$448, board fees US$17 336. Total expenditure US$45 677. Balances at bank US$371 921.

"That is the breakdown I can give but I do not have the receipts at the moment," Mr Chinaka said.

He said five board members were paid US$250 per month, while the chairperson, Chief Marange, was paid US$280 monthly.

Midlands MP Cde Melody Dziva questioned why the board had operated for a long time without meeting the constitutional requirement of having youths and women representatives in the trust.

To that end, legislators said there was a possibility that trustees had misappropriated the funds since they had gobbled a lot of money despite not being fully constituted.

The MPs also calculated and found that just over US$10 000 should have been paid to the board over the seven months period, yet the trustees claimed they had spent over US$17 000 on board fees.

But Mr Chinaka claimed they had reimbursed all the board members the money they had used for trust business before the mining companies had released the money.

While launching the scheme in 2012, President Mugabe said the proceeds of the trust must be used transparently and those who mishandle the trust funds would be punished.

"Let me advise the trustees to refrain from misappropriation of resources from the transactions. We greatly hold our respected chiefs with esteem and honour hence they are the ones entrusted to lead their communities out of poverty," President Mugabe said.

The five diamond-mining companies were expected to make an initial contribution of US$50 million with each giving US$10 million.

Gye Nyame and Kusena had not yet started operations when the scheme was launched.

Chief Marange and Chief Zimunya also complained that some of the mining companies, Anjin, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company were still to contribute to the scheme.

But Mberengwa North MP Cde Tafanana Zhou said there was no way the companies would have disbursed the money when they did not see projects being done on the ground.

But Chief Zimunya claimed there were some senior provincial leaders who interfered with the operations of the trust.

He said those leaders wanted to make the Marange-Zimunya scheme benefit the whole province than Marange and Zimunya only.

He said there was likelihood the companies were reluctant to disburse the money because of the discord.

Dzivaresekwa representative Mr Solomon Madzore insisted that Chief Zimunya disclose the names since he was protected by the Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act, but the latter stood his ground saying he would not mention the names.

Zanu-PF secretary for administration and Presidential Affairs Minister Didymus Mutasa in 2012 accused Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and former Zanu-PF provincial chairperson for Manicaland Cde Mike Madiro of personalising the ownership and composition of the trust.

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