By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, July 9 (The Source) – Former indigenization minister, Saviour Kasukuwere on Thursday maintained that five diamond mining companies in Marange had pledged $50 million to community trysts but were failing to meet their pledges due to lack of finances.
The firms — Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds, Diamond Mining Company, Anjin and Jinan — denied pledging $10 million each when they appeared before a parliamentary committee in indigenisation last year, saying they had instead offered seed money of $1,5 million when the Zimuto/Marange Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) was launched in mid-2012.
Appearing before the same committee to clarify the pledges, Kasukuwere said the decision to ask the miners to each pay $10 million was “a policy decision” reached by government.
“The agreement that $10 million must be made available was a position agreed to by all of us as government,” Kasukuwere said, adding that it was reached following agreement with the firms.
Asked why the companies had distanced themselves from the pledges, Kasukuwere said: “How can a person deposit money into a bank account and still distant themselves? I don’t know how companies which have shown cheques to the communities distance themselves?” he said, asking the committee to interrogate the matter.
Kasukuwere, who was reassigned to the water and environment ministry last year and latterly, the local government portfolio, said there was need to complete the indigenisation exercise to cede 51 percent of shares in foreign-owned mines as required by law.
“There is a lot of work that still has to be done in terms of completing the exercise, ensuring we transfer the 51 percent and the 10 percent shareholding to the communities,” he said.
“It doesn’t require those with feet made of clay to do it, you have got to be tough and get it done.”
Advisory firm Brainworks Capital Brainworks, which worked as the government’s consultants in the indigenisation transactions, told a parliamentary committee last month that only the $18 million Blanket mine deal with Canada-listed Caledonia had been completed.
Other transactions worth over $1 billion with major platinum mining firms Anglo American Platinum, Impala and Aquarius had been abandoned, it said.
Kasukuwere said the miners could be short on funds, hence their disowning of the agreement, but insisted that the “discussions with regards to the empowerment of the people of Marange was handled at very senior levels.”
The minister accused the chairman of the committee, Justice Wadyajena, of conducting a ‘witch-hunt’ expedition, adding that “there has been a lot of treachery, lack of understanding and to an extent — political sabotage” of the programme.
“…that still continues unashamedly by some among us who think it’s about scoring gains or politics at a personal level, ignoring the fact that the people of this country deserve to benefit,” he said.
Wadyajena countered that the interrogation was not a witch-hunting exercise but that he was just doing his work.
“It a big witch hunt, a misplaced one,” retorted Kasukuwere.
“I don’t think it’s the committee Mr Chairman, its yourself at a personal level. Mr Chairman you have been very careless,” he said, claiming he had recordings of Wadyajena talking to the media implicating him in corrupt activities.
“We respect this committee, we respect Parliament but this institution must never be used for political grandstanding, we must take each other seriously,” said Kasukuwere.
Wadyajena challenged him to take the recordings to the responsible authorities.
“If you have any recordings, you are free to take them anywhere. I won’t be intimidated. I am doing my job and I will continue with this investigation. Whether you say I have abused my position or whatever, I am not going to entertain that,” he said before asking the minister to “behave” himself.