By Richard Muponde
INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Sekai Nzenza on Thursday snubbed a community share ownership trusts (CSOTs) indaba, where she was supposed to give the keynote address, opting to attend a field day at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Precabe Farm in Kwekwe.
The snub immediately triggered anger among traditional leaders from across the country who had attended the Community Share Ownership Trusts Association (CSOTA) conference, hoping to learn about the fate of the schemes introduced by former President Robert Mugabe to empower local communities.
CSOTA national deputy chairperson, Chief Mathema of Gwanda said government was forgetting that their association represented the rural folk, where the majority of Zanu PF votes came from.
He urged ministers to treat the rural communities with respect.
“I am overly concerned about the issue. I expected the minister to be here so that we discuss issues,” Chief Mathema said.
“The majority of the votes the ruling party gets come from the rural areas and we should be taken seriously. If she was busy, she could have delegated her deputy or the permanent secretary. They are the ones who shifted the dates of our conference promising to be here, but they didn’t show up.”
He said CSOTs had a lot of questions which they wanted to be clarified by the minister.
“We don’t know if they (Nzenza, her deputy and permanent secretary) will come in the future. They also did it at our last conference at Silveira House. The then minister (Mangaliso Ndlovu) didn’t turn up, but sent a lawyer who wasn’t even aware of the issues of CSOTs. We are being short-changed in this constituency. We now appear like orphans,” he said.
“We wanted to ask the minister the position of CSOTs in the new dispensation. This is the key question we wanted to be answered. We are hopeless.”
The association’s secretary-general and lawyer, Clever Mandizvidza said they were very much offended by Nzenza’s absence.
“I believe that they will send someone,” he said.
“The economic empowerment of rural communities should be taken seriously and shouldn’t be compromised. You might feel big in those higher offices, but when you are fired, you will come back to the communities and the chiefs. Issues affecting our people should be taken
However, the director for economic empowerment in Nzenza’s ministry, Michael Fungati, apologised on her behalf, saying his boss was committed elsewhere.
But it turned out that Nzenza was among a number of ministers who thronged Mnangagwa’s event at his Precabe Farm.
Some of the Cabinet ministers who also attended the event include Mthuli Ncube (Finance), July Moyo (Local Government), Cain Mathema (Primary and Secondary Education), Owen Ncube (State Security), Monica Mutsvangwa (Information) and Perrance Shiri (Lands).