'Diamond firms had verbal agreement'

HARARE - Francis Nhema, Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation minister, yesterday revealed that diamond companies merely made gentleman’s agreements and used goodwill towards the contribution of  $10 million each towards the Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT).

Nhema was giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth and Indigenisation. He was asked to clarify how much each company was supposed to contribute towards CSOT.

“We have agreed as a government policy that each company has to pay $10 million and it was a precedent that was set by Zimplats when it made its contributions and is now expected of every mining company, to so,” Nhema said.

“My predecessor held several meetings with the mining companies and they agreed that they have to pay that money. It was a gentleman’s agreement and a goodwill gesture which government accepted as it was dealing with private companies. I hope that these companies are going to honour their pledges.”

Nhema said 31 companies had made a contribution of $31 million.

Mayor Justice Wadyajena, chairperson of the committee, said it was of concern that they were made to understand by five diamond mining companies that they would contribute $1,5 million each.

He complained that the companies presented a dummy cheque to president Robert Mugabe.

“This a mockery to the nation as these mining companies are saying that they were never given a figure to contribute but they were just making contributions out of their own will as they never made pledges. This is why they presented to us dummy cheques of less money,” Wadyajena said.

  Wadyajena said mining diamonds firms in Chiadzwa said they never pledged $10 million each and were never consulted on the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (MZCSOT) as claimed by Chief Gilbert Marange and some government officials. 

This emerged after officials from Mbada Diamonds, Jinan Mining, Marange Resources, Anjin and Diamond Mining Company (DMC) appeared before the parliamentary portfolio committee to answer to charges that they were reneging on their promise to provide $10 million each to the trust.

Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources had paid only $200 000 each to the trust from the $10 million promised.

The companies claimed Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was then minister of Defence and his ex-Indigenisation counterpart Savior Kasukuwere, had told them that they were free to fulfil their pledge over a period of five years.

Enock Moyo, the Jinan chief executive officer, claimed that the cheque that Mugabe presented to the Marange community was a dummy because they had indicated that they did not have cash at hand.

He said they had not made good on the pledge owing to low productivity which has led to a dire financial situation at the Marange mine.

Mbada Diamonds chairman Robert Mhlanga said the $200 000 his company had contributed towards the trust was out of the diamond firm’s own volition.

Mhlanga said nobody had ever approached his company to request for the $10 million payment.

He said his company was not even represented when Mugabe officially launched the MZCSOT in July 2012.

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