MEMBERS of the Thematic Committee on Indigenisation and Empowerment have accused the Mhondoro-Ngezi and Shurugwi Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) board of trustees of mismanaging funds released by the country’s two platinum mining giants.
By Shingirai Vambe
Senators toured the Mhondoro-Ngezi and Shurugwi communities which received $10 million each from Zimplats and Unki Mine, respectively, under the country’s community share ownership scheme introduced by former President Robert Mugabe under his controversial indigenisation programme.
The scheme was meant to compel mining companies to plough back into surrounding communities.
In an effort to engage the CSOTs trust boards and communities, senators visited Mhondoro-Ngezi on Monday, where they said there was lack of transparency and accountability on how the funds were used. Parliament also claimed lack of noticeable developments in the communities even after the release of the funds.
“The amount of money we are talking about here does not equate with the standard of buildings you are seeing here. This is sub-standard. The existing Mhondoro-Ngezi CSOT misused the fund for their personal use at the expense of the community,” said committee chairperson Maybe Mbowa.
In Shurugwi, senators toured Msasa Primary School, 20km from Unki, which is a CSOT project and also caters for children with disabilities. The board claimed it had bought a rig for borehole drilling, grader and a 10-tonne truck.
Community members who gathered at Msasa School said they had not seen the said grader and also queried why they were made to pay $3 per 50kg bag of maize they wanted ferried on the CSOT truck, which charge they said was exorbitant.
They bemoaned the lack of medical facilities and a decent road network in the community.
A female community member said: “Here we are 15km away from our medical facilities. The nearest facility is Shurugwi General Hospital. The shed you see there was constructed by parents to add to the classroom facilities.
You have also walked all the way from the highway because of the bad road, and we claim we have a grader that was bought by the CSOT funds?”
CSOT boards of trustees are overseen by chiefs. In Shurugwi, Chief Banga was there to respond to issues raised.
“We were given the money and this [Msasa Primary School] is evidence of how the money was used. They are several other projects out of 24 wards which were implemented. The challenge is on the borehole drilling rig, where Zinwa is requesting us to pay $30 for each borehole. Where would we get that money from? We are doing this for the community,” Chief Banga said.
“Now, people are drinking dirty water from unsafe places, something which may cause waterborne diseases.”
Mbowa urged boards of trustees to hold regular meetings in their community for accountability purposes.
The senators will next week tour Chiadzwa, where allegations of mismanagement of the CSOT funds are also said to be rife.