ZIMPLATS has released US$4,1 million and has pledged to disburse more to the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership (CSO) Trust as the platinum miner moves to comply with the country’s empowerment laws.
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Projects underway in the communities include borehole drilling, water tank installation, schools’ electrification and renovation of classroom blocks and purchase of furniture for schools among others.
Zimplats head of corporate affairs Busi Chindove said all projects on the ground were currently a work in progress and would benefit from the same fund.
She said over US$800 000 had been used to date.
“As long as we are using the money in a manner that meets community wants and needs, I think that’s fine because that was the whole idea and obviously making sure the use is within the confines of the law and regulations,” said the Zimplats spokesperson.
Chindove could however not confirm when the next disbursement would be done.
“We know exactly where and how the money is being used. The projects are grassroots determined,” she said, adding that Zimplats was committed to complying with the laws of the country.
The release of the funds comes despite concerns from Finance minister Tendai Biti that community trusts were illegal as they were not enshrined in the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
Biti said foreign-owned companies were being arm-twisted into supporting the empowerment programme.
In Zvimba district alone,US$138 000 has already been used.
In January this year, Impala Platinum concluded a non-binding term sheet with the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment ministry for the sale of a 51% stake of its Zimbabwe subsidiary, Zimplats, to various indigenous entities for US$971 million.
Zimplats settled to sell a 31% stake to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund and 10% to the Mhondoro-Ngezi-Chegutu-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust as well as an employee share ownership trust.
The company also offered vendor financing for the new owners at an interest rate of 10% a year, repayable from 85% of the dividends of the indigenisation shares.
The consummation of the deal has been bogged down by infighting in arms of government with the central bank insisting that it was not consulted.
The Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment said that all the relevant stakeholders would be consulted in the implementation of the agreement.
A number of large mining companies, among them Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki, have pledged to donate various amounts agreed to under the schemes to comply with the indigenisation legislation.
KASUKUWERE PRAISES CSO SCHEMES
Saviour Kasukuwere, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister, said government was quite satisfied with the progress to date and developments being undertaken in the community with co-operation between the chiefs, Rural District Councils and the local government authorities.
Kasukuwere said the wheels of justice would catch up with non-compliant companies.
He said there was need to “to build capacity, audits, and accounting firms who will come and support the communities, we want to see at the end of the year published accounts of how the communities have used their funds”.
Kasukuwere called for the synchronisation of planning between council and trust funds, saying that government was simply adding on to what the council already has.