ZIMBABWE Minerals Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills Masimirembwa has set himself on a collision course with Manicaland provincial governor Chris Mushohwe over the alleged failure by diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa to develop local communities.
REPORT BY DUMISANI SIBANDA
This followed claims by Mushohwe that diamond-mining firms in Chiadzwa were not ploughing back part of their proceeds to the local communities.
Instead Mushohwe told a minerals consultative workshop in Mutare this week that diamond-mining firms were bankrolling developmental projects in other provinces outside Manicaland leaving out locals.
But Masimirembwa on Wednesday said: “As ZMDC we are in joint ventures with a number of companies in mining diamonds in the Marange-Zimunya area and we have a number of social corporate responsibility programmes for the local community.
“We were involved in the relocation of 400 families from the mining area and we have built houses for them as well as schools and built roads. If you go on the ground you will realise that 72% of people employed in the diamond mines are people from that province.”
Masimirembwa added: “Recently, we were there donating agricultural inputs and other items worth $500 000. We are also paying for fees for disadvantaged school children in the community. Maybe there could be room for improvement, but we are trying our best. You have to realise that some of the revenue from the sale of diamonds have to go to the national fiscus.”
He said it would be wrong for the diamond firms to plough all proceeds from their operations to Manicaland at the expense of the whole country.
The ZMDC chairperson said money would soon be pumped into the Marange-Zimunya Community Ownership Scheme that was launched by President Robert Mugabe last year.
“We are at an advanced stage of sorting out that issue and I can tell you very soon we will be fulfilling the promises made under that agreement. There were some legal issues that needed to be attended to,” he said. “Diamond companies are required to pay royalties of 15% of sales of the mineral. There are some who think government should take half of the amount of the diamond sales. I do not know what kind of business model which does not take into consideration operational costs.”