MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has demanded that the government establish community share-ownership schemes in Marange to help locals benefit from diamond mining activities in the area.
In a statement Friday, Tsvangirai – who visited the controversial area in the eastern Manicaland province for the first time last week -- attacked what he described as government hypocrisy in the implementation of its economic empowerment programme.
“The hypocrisy of government on indigenisation is more than exposed in Chiadzwa,” he said.
“If we are genuine about community share-ownership schemes, why have we not accorded the same shares to the communities in Marange so that these people benefit from the resources around them?
“The companies mining there, including those owned by the government, have not done that which we are forcing companies to do.”
Platinum majors Implats and Amplats – who own the country’s major platinum mining companies – have been compelled to donate up to US$10 million to community share-trust schemes established in areas where they operate.
The share schemes make-up part of the companies’ compliance with economic empowerment legislation which requires foreign companies to transfer ownership of at least 51 percent of their operations.
But Tsvangirai said the government was not forcing diamond companies to make similar arrangements for locals in Marange including many villagers forced off their lands to make way for the mining operations.
“Those diamonds will mean nothing to the country if they fail to transform people’s lives, starting with the Marange community itself and so far,” the MDC-T leader said.
“I visited both the mining sites and the displaced villagers at the Arda Transau Estate. I was especially touched by the plight of the villagers.
“There is no direct benefit to the people whose lives were disrupted and on whose traditional land this treasure is being mined.”
The government says it expects diamond miners to boost state revenues by more than US$600 million this year alone.
However, the reportedly rich Marange diamond find has divided the coalition government with the MDC-T saying that money from operations in the area was being diverted away from treasury.
Rights groups also claim that control of some of the companies operating there as well as the ultimate beneficiaries of their activities remains murky.
Tsvangirai said although he was impressed with mining activities in Marange there was still need for greater transparency in their operations.
"We must show transparency in the way we exploit this resource, the way we market it and the way we benefit for all of our very wide-range challenges we face as a country," the MDC-T leader said as he wrapped up a tour of the mines.