By Kenneth Matimaire
Mutare, May 01, 2016 – CHIEF Marange and Chiadzwa villagers say government must come clean on the status of the controversial Marange-Zimunya Community Trust (COST) following the consolidation of the vast diamond fields under a new entity – Zimbabwe Consolidation Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Chief Marange said it was imperative for government to clarify how they were going to handle concerns regarding the trust after they kicked out former diamond miners.
The bitter chief said he has been inundated with questions from villagers who want clarity on the future of the $50 million trust.
“My people are coming to me and demanding answers over what will become of the Marange-Zimunya trust. But I can’t provide them with answers because I’m searching for answers just like them. I too need to know what the government plans to do.
“There is the new company (ZCDC) now. I don’t know whether it is taking over or it (scheme) is still under the old companies.”
“So whatever government is planning in Chiadzwa, they should prioritise the trust first. It should be finalised once and for all. The new company has to make sure that it develops Marange first, we can’t continue to have our resources plundered,” he charged.
The Marange-Zimunya trust was launched at Gomorefu Secondary School in Marange by President Robert Mugabe in 2012.
Five diamond companies, namely Anjin Investment, Mbada Diamond, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Marange Resources and Jinan Mining pledged to disburse $10 million each into the trust.
Anjin went on to present a dummy check worth $1,5 million that was handed over to President Mugabe.
However, of the $50 million jointly pledged, only $400 000 found its way into the trust coffers as the companies shifted goal posts and professed ignorance on both the existence of the trust itself and even making the pledge.
The situation has left Chief Marange on a coalition course with his people.
Villagers under his jurisdiction have accused him of supping with the miners and top government officials to sideline the trust meant to stir developmental projects in the impoverished community.
Villagers who spoke to Radio VOP said they were fast running out of patience over government’s failure to treat their case with the urgency it deserves.
“Right now we do not have good relations with our chief because of the issue. We don’t know who is lying to us, whether it’s him (Chief Marange) or the government. But what we want from them is to come clean on the future of this trust. We are tired of being taken for a ride,” said Precious Mwandiyamba, an elderly lady from Marange.
Villagers in Marange, Buhera South, Hotspring and Arda Transau relocation raised the same concerns saying it was unliekly that a scheme that was launched by the country’s President could turn out to be a hoax.
Arda Transau Relocation Development Trust secretary Blessing Mafute under Mbada resettlement said government should stop taking them for a ride.
“Imagine that we were moved on false promises that the trust was going to develop the area we were relocated in, but the only thing that we saw is a fence that was bought to secure a clinic under Anjin resettlement.
“So who are we going to ask for the rest of the money? Is ZCDC going to fulfil the pledges?” questioned Mafute.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said ZCDC will assume the responsibility without giving finer details.
“We know the concerns of the villagers on the trust but what we have done is to instruct ZCDC to assume the responsibility. We want to remind our people that we have not forgotten them. The trust is something that we are taking serious as government,” said Chidhakwa.