Minister threatens diamond mining companies

Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Mandiitawepi yesterday threatened to hand over all diamond mining companies in Marange to debt collectors in order to recover the $50 million they collectively pledged to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) two years ago.

BY CLAYTON MASEKESA

The mining firms sold the country’s top leadership a dummy by presenting a $1,5 million cheque to President Robert Mugabe during the colourful launch of the community share ownership trust scheme in 2012.

In a no-holds-barred meeting with mining companies at her Mutare offices, Chimene said it was high time the companies paid the money or risked being handed over to the debt collectors.

“We have been patient enough. We need that money now. There is no need to continue talking without any progress. There is no more talking and we will engage the debt collectors to get what is due for us,” Chimene said.

“I will engage those vicious indigenous debt collectors who will toss you around so that we get that money. I am serious about this issue.”

Each of the five companies represented at the launch had pledged to pay $10 million in the trust’s coffers, but up to date, only two of them, Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources, have remitted $400 000.
Two other firms that were represented at the trust launch, Anjin and Diamond Mining Company, were yet to pay despite numerous pledges to honour their part of the bargain.

The fifth and sixth companies, Jinan and Rera were yet to commence operations.

“Chiefs and people from Marange are always breathing down my neck asking me about progress made in having the companies release the money they pledged. People need to benefit from these resources.

“ If there are no any diamonds there, why are the companies continuing operating? They should close down,” Chimene said.

Marange Resources chief exective officer Mark Mabhudu said his company paid $50 000 in February this year towards the trust.
“We have committed ourselves to pay monthly installments of $50 000 as we now expand our operations,” Mabhudu said.

Anjin Investments spokesperson Patrick Mukango acknowledged that they had not contributed anything towards the Marange-Zimunya CSOT.
This did not go down well with Chimene who blasted Anjin Investments for trying to buy time.

“I think we should respect each other here. You are not even ashamed of yourselves. You have been on the ground for almost four years now and you come here to give us lame excuses.

“What you are saying does not make sense. You should make a real commitment. You should tell your bosses that we want action and not talk-shows. If you do not want to be serious about this issue, you will see how serious we are,” she said.

A representative from Rera Diamond Company said they were facing operational challenges but pledged to pay $1 million as soon as they start operating.

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