HARARE , April 3 (The Source) - Indigenisation minister, Francis Nhema on Thursday said mining companies must fulfil their pledges to pay $10 million to the Community Share Ownership Trusts in line with the empowerment law.
Presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary portfolio committee on youth and indigenisation, Nhema said a "gentlemen's" agreement was reached with the companies although there was no binding agreement.
"The spirit of the agreement, the spirit of the discussion was that they would pay $10 million. We don't have pledges written but we have minutes. I believe it's a gentlemen's agreement, they were in the meeting, they shook their hands, they should honour their obligation," Nhema said.
Committee chairperson Mayor Wadyajena (ZANU-PF, Gokwe-Nembudziya) asked whether government worked on gentlemen's agreements.
"The government operates on goodwill sir. That is why we still accepted the $10 million from Unki without any written agreement," Nhema said.
He admitted that there were disputes over the pledges but maintained that companies had to honour their promises.
"It would have been ideal if we had something written down," he said.
Members of Parliament pressed the minister on why some Marange diamond mining companies such as Mbada and Anjin were professing ignorance about the pledge, while others claimed they were to pay $1, 5 million over a period of five years.
Nhema said there were minutes on meetings between the mining companies and former minister - Saviour Kasukuwere – showing the companies made the pledges.
"I dare not say the President (Robert Mugabe) would have been misled -- they were all there at the launch and it was said categorically that the $10 million will be seed money to assist the community share trust," he said.
When the discussions started, Zimplats and Unki proposed to pay $10 million which was deemed reasonable, Nhema said.
"When that decision was made, I am reliably informed that a meeting also was held with all the companies in Marange by my predecessor and an understanding was reached that $10 million would be appropriate for all the companies.”
According to a schedule presented by Nhema in Parliament, 13 mining companies paid a total of $31 million.
Of the 13 companies only Unki paid the full amount of $10 million; Zimplats, $6 million; Blanket Mine, $5 million; Mimosa, $4 million; Freda $1 million; Rio Tinto owned Murowa Diamonds, $300 000; Mbada, $200 000 and Marange Resources $200 000.
Nhema was asked to submit letters, minutes and also the dummy cheques presented when the trust was launched by end of the day on Thursday.
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