14 April 2014

Zimbabwe: Kudos to Zimplats for Showing the Way


WE commend platinum mining giant Zimplats for fulfilling the US$10 million pledge it made to the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust after the recent release of the last tranche of US$1,5 million to the CSOT.

As we report elsewhere in this issue, the money has gone a long way in transforming livelihoods of communities in Mashonaland West province that had for years seen mining companies grow fat at the expense of the people..

The move by Zimplats, coming as it does at a time diamond mining companies in Marange have been hitting the headlines over the US$10 million apiece that they should have remitted to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust should be a clarion call on Government to rein in the companies in Chiadzwa.

Zim-Asset, the economic blueprint which steers economic revival till 2018, can only impact the economy and lives if adequate funding is found, which means Government must pursue all revenue streams to boost the fiscus.

And we can only get that if all exploiting the nation's finite resources honour their obligations.

The companies do not have to grow fat at the expense of the nation and the communities in which they operate.

In the case of the diamond mining companies, the insolence could not be starker.

Mbada Diamonds, which revealed that it had accrued US$1 billion from its operations, surely cannot tell the nation that it cannot part with a measly US$10 million to improve livelihoods in the surrounding communities.

US$10 million constitutes just 1 percent of what Mbada has so far got from its concession. The other companies must also tell the nation how much they have made but we are sure that if Mbada can make US$1 billion, they are also in that range.

While the jury is still out on who did what in Marange as far as the CSOT is concerned, now is not the time to persuade the companies to pay, they must just be ordered to pay the US$10 million, which in our opinion is peanuts anyway given what they are extracting from a national resource.

If the companies do not want to support Government policies, they must ship out but only after paying the US$10 million which Zimplats has paid to the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust.

The companies are not ordained to benefit from the diamonds at the expense of the people.

And their behaviour over the Marange-Zimunya CSOT vindicates Government's decision to make diamond mining an exclusive responsibility of the State, that will then mine the resource under strict parameters of strict accountability and channel proceeds to national development.

Speaking to officials and buyers of the Dubai Diamond Exchange in the UAE last week, the President said unlike gold mining where many stakeholders are allowed, diamond mining would be exclusive to the State, with Government rationalising existing operations to create one State-led company.

We couldn't agree more.

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