GOVERNMENT and the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Corporation (ZCDC) have backed down from a protracted confrontation with the Chiadzwa community over a contentious proposal to invest US$400 million in a platinum project.
ZCDC and the Mines ministry have been at loggerheads with the Chiadzwa Community Share Ownership Trust (CCSOT), which was querying plans to have the diamond miner purchase 33% shareholding in Great Dyke Investment (GDI).
GDI is desperate for capital after Russian investors, Vi Holdings, pulled out of the US$3 billion Darwendale platinum project in Mashonaland West, which has since stalled as a result.
The parties, however, said they were smoking a peace pipe and in a seven-page document, spelt how they would move forward, and improve engagements.
“Between February and May 2023, the three pillars making up the tripartite working structure in Marange encountered a major challenge due to their differences in approach to a given administrative development,” said the paper, which is titled Results-Based Tripartite Operational Framework.
“Relations between the three pillars were indeed strained and the echoes of the strain reached the international community. (Rather) than allow their differences to be a destructive watershed to the internationally recognised tripartite best practices, the three pillars in the tripartite working structure in Marange rekindled their efforts to re-engage and turn the existing challenge into an opportunity for identifying existing gaps and through bridging these gaps; develop their tripartite working structure into a stronger establishment,” it said.
“The main gap identified was the absence of an operational framework to guide the conduct of the three pillars as they relate in the tripartite web. In a decisive move to bridge this gap, the three pillars therefore convened, negotiated and agreed on this Results-Based Tripartite Operational Framework.
“This framework ensures concrete results-based development of the community pillar alongside the development of the two accompanying pillars in this tripartite web. There shall be continuous constructive engagement between the three pillars. Any pillar shall have the right to initiate engagement in any identified area of need at any given time.
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“When one pillar initiates an engagement process, the pillar(s) being approached for engagement shall give due responsive communication to the engaging pillar within seven days of being approached to ensure matters are attended to in time,” the paper noted.
When the ZCDC-GDI transaction was first mooted, CCSOT opposed it saying it threatened community interests. It also raised concerns over the involvement of interested parties in the proposal.
The proposal was allegedly the brainchild of ZCDC chairperson Munashe Shava, who is also chief operating officer at GDI.
Reports suggested that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube had authorised the deal.
Billed as Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum mine, when it was launched, the GDI project experienced delays in raising funds, while sanctions on Russia imposed by the West after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, forced Vi Holdings to withdraw from the project.
Government responded to the opposition from the Chiadzwa community by barring its leaders from attending a crucial conference in Victoria Falls at the end of March this year.
The CCSOT, however, refused to back down, and petitioned local and international organisations over the issue.