Zanu PF demands $15 million for Marange trust; minister says money must be paid before elections

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MUTARE: ZANU PF is demanding the release of the US$15m funding promised the Zimunya Marange Community Share Ownership Trust before elections due this year.

Top party officials warned that the saga could cost Zanu PF dearly in elections due between July and August this year as there was nothing to show by way of development in local communities despite billions being generated through diamond mining.

Former President Robert Mugabe showed off a dummy $15m cheque at the launch of the Trust but later conceded that he had been misled by then indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere after it emerged that the money was never remitted to the scheme.

The Trust was established in 2010 to enable the local community to benefit from diamond mining activities in Marange.

Mugabe was ousted last November and the mining companies which operated in area were wound up without the funds being paid into the Trust. The various companies were merged into the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC)

However, speaking at a provincial party meeting in Mutare recently, Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri said new mines minister Winston Chitando must ensure that the $15m is paid into the Trust.

“We are demanding more money into the trust. We are demanding $15 million from minister Chitando,” said Muchinguri who is also environment minister.

Manicaland, she added, had nothing to show for its diamond wealth while similar trusts in other provinces such Mashonaland West and the Midlands had changed the lives of locals.

“We want ZCDC to set up a cutting and polishing centre soon for the benefit of local communities.  We want don’t want lip service (to development of local communities).”

Speaking on the same occasion, scholarships minister and Mutare West MP, Chris Mushohwe said the Zimunya-Marange Trust issue must be resolved before elections expected in July.

“I met the mines minister Winston Chitando to register our displeasure over how things were handled by former miners in Marange,” said Mushohwe.

“I tried to seek audience from former mines ministers Amos Midzi and Obert Mpofu but they were both evasive. I tried to engage minister Walter Chidhakwa but akabva adhakwawo (there was no progress either).

“We need the issue to be solved urgently otherwise it’s going to be difficult for us to convince the electorate ahead of the polls. Nothing is really happening on the ground.”