7 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Misled Over $50 Million Marange Pledge

CABINET ministers misled President Robert Mugabe by claiming that mining companies in Marange were going to contribute $10 million each towards the community share ownership trusts, a parliamentary portfolio committee has heard.

Heads of all seven mining firms operating in the diamond rich area said Mugabe was misled by his ministers to believe that $10 million was going to be given to the community by each mining firm as none of them had agreed to that.

Appearing before a parliamentary portfolio on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, Mbada chairperson, Robert Mhlanga said his organisation was never involved in the set-up of the Marange-Zimunya community share ownership scheme and never made a pledge at all.

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, Munyaradzi Machacha, a Zanu PF functionary, shocked the committee when he claimed Kasukuwere was told before the launch of the trust by Mugabe that his company had 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," 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," Machacha said.

Diamond Mining Corporation general manager, 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.

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