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‘Only 24% of CSOTs up and running’

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Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Development deputy minister Mathias Tongofa has disclosed that only 24% of the 61 Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) set up by government to spearhead developmental projects in the country were running with the majority still at infancy level.

by VENERANDA LANGA

Tongofa was speaking in the Senate last Thursday when he was quizzed by Midlands senator Morgan Komichi (MDC-T) on whether CSOTs had been successful.

“I will confidently say there are a number of success stories behind CSOTs, as we have 61 registered CSOTs, and out of those, 15 of them have been capitalised.

“We had $38 million availed to those CSOTs and $14 million out of that has been used in various communities that are really benefiting, which really shows the broad-based empowerment programme,” he said.

But President of the Chiefs’ Council Senator Chief Fortune Charumbira said 15 out of 61 CSOTs was only 24% and could not be hailed as a success story.

“We need to tell the truth regarding CSOTs. You said 15 out of 61, which is about 24%. As far as I am concerned, this is a failure,” Charumbira said.

“Looking at the feelings of chiefs, you said CSOTs would be bestowed upon the powers of chiefs, but we have noted that we are not even in the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) that is running those policies. We have been told that we cannot even be ex-officio members of these boards.”

Tongofa told the Senate that many companies were not coming forward to provide seed capital to CSOTs.

“It is an issue which we need to work together as a community to make sure these companies come on board and really provide the seed capital. We have talked to Metallon Gold and they have established five CSOTs for their five mines in different districts, and they are capitalising those CSOTs this year. Yes, we are not moving with the speed that is expected by everyone, but we are making progress,” he said.

The issue of capitalisation of CSOTs has been a thorny one with revelations last year before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment that even President Robert Mugabe was, in July 2013, made to present dummy cheques to CSOTs in Marange worth $1,5 million.

The committee, chaired by Gokwe Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena, was told out of the $1,5 million only $400 000 was deposited.

The five diamond mining companies in Marange were supposed to contribute $50 million ($10 million each) to Zimunya Marange CSOT, but none have been doing so.

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