By Staff Reporter
Mutare: Since the launch of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (MZCSOT) in 2011 by then President Robert Mugabe, locals have said they were yet to taste any meaningful benefit from the project.
Government, through the then Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, launched the trust to uplift the under-developed but diamond rich Marange, situated some 80 kilometres south of Mutare.
During launch, Mugabe received US$1, 5 million dummy cheque from Chinese miner Anjin Investment Private Limited, a partnership between the army and Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC).
Anjin, together with other six diamond miners including Mbada, Jinan, Marange Resources, DMC and Kusena pledged to contribute US$50 million into the trust coffers but only US$400,000 was disbursed before the miners reneged on their promises.
Villagers told this publication they have benefited little to none from the project.
Mutare West, Mutare South and Mutare North constituencies were supposed to be three beneficiaries of the trust.
Arda Transau Relocation Trust committee member Blessing Mufute said apart from a fence that was erected in their community, nothing more was done.
“The trust is just there to act as a reference when authorities are asked what they have done but not necessarily to serve the community. We are yet to see the importance of the trust in our village,” said Mufute.
Chief Marange said he was yet to see the importance of the trust, adding that his area has remained underdeveloped for years since the discovery of alluvial diamonds back in 2006.
“I don’t know what to say because we have said this before, but I will repeat it again. Marange is still waiting for real transformation, not these jokes happening.
“My homestead does not befit status of a Chief who hails from the richest area in the country…you can come and see for yourself the condition of my house,” said Chief Marange.
When the Mugabe administration kicked out seven diamond firms for non-compliance, government established the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) which assumed the responsibility of funding the trust when it commenced operations in 2016.
The trust received US$5 million which was effected when incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government converted the funds to local currency at a 1:1 rate.
MZCSOT had only utilised ZWL$3, 2 million to fund community projects in three constituencies within the vicinity of Chiadzwa diamond fields.
MZCSOT administrator David Garwe indicated that the ZWL$5 million disbursed by government in 2018 was distributed at ward, district and constituency level.
He said each ward received ZWL$80,000 and ZWL$100,000 was allocated to every district.
Each of the 36 wards of Marange-Zimunya community got an allocation of ZWL$80 000 for community projects.
“So far ZWL$3, 2 million used to fund community projects,” Garwe said.
“The trust received ZWL$5 million in May, 2018. Each of the 36 wards of Marange-Zimunya community were allocated ZWL$80,000 for community projects as per their needs. District project were allocated ZWL$100,000 and each of the three constituencies i.e. Mutare West, Mutare South and Mutare North were allocated ZWL$160, 000 each.”
According to a report by MZCSOT, some of the completed projects include 14 boreholes in 12 wards, fencing of five community gardens and two clinics, namely Matiza and Madanga clinics.