Women legislators want transparency on indigenisation

Senators Priscah Mupfumira and Sithembile Mlotshwa have challenged the Zimbabwe indigenisation economic empowerment board to prove that the indigenisation programme was transparent and non-partisan.

Senator Priscah Mupfumira
Senator Priscah Mupfumira

The call was directed at the executive, led by Wilson Gwatiringa, who was giving oral evidence to the parliamentary portfolio for indigenisation and empowerment in parliament last week.

The lawmakers demanded that they be furnished with facts about how the Community Share Ownership Trust was implemented, where employment opportunities had been created for local people and how the funds involved were disbursed.

Mupfumira expressed doubts about the transparency and accountability of the exercise was being carried out.

“We want to know about facts concerning the number of locals employed at specific projects, what is being purchased locally in line with policy, how indigenisation moneys are used and what levels of salaries you are receiving as executive members,” Mupfumira said at the meeting.

A breakdown of how much was channelled towards real projects, administration, salaries and other commitments was demanded.

The employment pattern, including what priority was given to locals when job opportunities came up, would also be made available to parliament.

Mupfumira demanded the board explain what would be done about the gap created by companies that failed to honour pledges made towards the Community Share Ownership Trust.

According to Gwatiringa, $116m was pledged by mining companies, but only $30m was channelled to the programme.

Mlotshwa quizzed Gwatiringa on how benefiting communities and provinces were identified since, in Matabeleland, there were no visible Community Share Ownership Trusts.

Gwatiringa was asked to provide detailed and accurate facts on which provinces benefited and why.

“Failure to clarify this issue will leave people with no choice but to suspect everything was partisan,” Mlotshwa said.

Gwatiringa promised to furnish the lawmakers with the facts at his earliest convenience.

On the salaries issue, Gwatiringa claimed they earned far below what people suspected.

“Our salaries were approved by the board and the relevant ministry,” Gwatiringa said, promising to make available the executive salary schedule.

The portfolio committee also demanded that NIEEB prove that companies were buying 50 per cent of their operations requirements locally as stipulated by the indigenisation policy.

Chief Nyamukoho (Samson Katsande) expressed concern at the failure by his community to benefit from the Community Share Ownership Trust despite gold and granite stone quarry activities in Mtoko and Mudzi.

“The scheme should speedily spread to my communities since mining activities are destroying the environment at an alarming rate without benefiting locals,” Nyamukoho said.

Hurungwe and several other parts of the country were cited as non-beneficiaries.

Sixty Community Share Ownership Trusts, each worth $10m, have been established in the country under the indigenisation programme.

Mining companies that are part of the scheme include Zimbabwe Platinum Holdings, Blanket, Mimosa and Unki Mine.

The trusts aim to involve local people in the mainstream economy.

Projects such as repair of roads, dams, clinics and schools would help develop areas and create job opportunities for local communities.

Section 14 of the indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act provides for the establishment of the Community Share Ownership Trusts.

The programme is marred by allegations that some chiefs and powerful politicians among communities would abuse the fund.

This, according to the sources, resulted in government investigating the reported misappropriation of funds and companies failing to honour pledges to the trust.

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