MANICALAND Provincial Governor and Resident Minister Christopher Mushowe has warned Mines minister Obert Mpofu and diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa against taking away diamonds from the province while doing nothing for the people of the area.
REPORT BY OBEY MANAYITI
Addressing guests at a mines and mineral policy workshop organised by the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development in Mutare yesterday, Mushowe said people in his province were getting impatient over the issue and could soon take the law into their own hands.
“We don’t mind the companies scooping our resources, but if you build a small island of riches in the middle of a sea of poverty, the sea will drown the island. Let the island take heed. We cannot continue allowing things to go the way they are,” said Mushowe.
“Let’s exercise responsibility. Be warned that we want responsible investors who realise how to work among people. I think you will convey this message clearly. I am specifically speaking on behalf of Manicaland. Our people have been so patient and please don’t take that patience for granted. We cannot continue watching things going on like this. Let the Minister of Mines be warned.”
Contacted for comment yesterday Mpofu said: “Talk to (Goodwills) Masimirembwa, the chairman of ZMDC (Zimbabwe Minerals Development Corporation).”
However, Masimirembwa could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Speaking at the same function, director of finance and administration in Mpofu’s ministry Olivia Mwamlowe said: “It’s very clear people want to be empowered. We are going to Harare for another meeting and we will consolidate these view and they will be made available to anyone. We are happy that people are saying things that affect them.”
Added Mushowe: “This province is not the only province where diamonds are found, but we are the province where the largest resource endowment is found.”
He said it was deplorable that the mines were concerned about their revenue without empowering the locals in terms of proper schools and health facilities. Diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa have also been accused of refusing to give fair compensation to hundreds of villagers displaced by mining activities.
Mushowe also expressed concern that the coffers of the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust were still empty almost a year after its colourful launch by President Robert Mugabe and bemoaned the level of corruption and nepotism among diamond firms in Chiadzwa.
Mining policy consultant Paul Jordan told delegates that there was need to strike a benefits balance between investors, community and the government.
Jordan nearly torched a storm when he said the indigenisation policy should not be implemented in a one-size-fit-all approach when it comes to mining.