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Zimbabwe Minister in Dispute With Local Chief Over Community Industrial Stakes

  • Gibbs Dube

Sources said Kasukuwere with Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Mhondoro-Ngezi lawmaker Bright Matonga have bypassed Chief Nyika of the area around the Zimplats operation in forming a community trust

Zimbabwean Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere and two ZANU-PF lawmakers are at odds with a traditional chief in Mhondoro-Ngezi constituency, Mashonaland West Province, over how to administer a local community stake in platinum producer Zimplats likely to be ceded by the company under the country's black empowerment law.

The weekly Standard newspaper reported and Cabinet sources said that Kasukuwere in league with Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo and Mhondoro-Ngezi lawmaker Bright Matonga have bypassed Chief Nyika of the area around the Zimplats operation in forming a community trust to hold Zimplats shares ceded under indigenization.

The sources said Kasukuwere, Chombo and Matonga, all ZANU-PF members or officials, have sought the help of three other chiefs in moving to set up a community trust in the apparent intention of gaining control over shares worth some $120 million.

Nyika, who formed the Mhondoro-Ngezi Community Development Foundation some time ago, was reported to be furious and threatening to derail the ZANU-PF proposal.

Neither Kasukuwere nor any of the other ZANU-PF officials, nor Nika, could be reached immediately for comment. Kasukuwere was said to be busy Monday scrutinizing company indigenization plans as a deadline for submission of such plans passed on Sunday.

Deputy Indigenization Minister Tongai Matutu said the Cabinet should act swiftly to stop politicians from grabbing shares under the guise of empowering local populations.

Development worker Liberty Bhebhe said the goings-on in Mhondoro-Ngezi show that ZANU-PF officials want to enrich themselves through indigenization.

Economist Tony Hawkins said community trusts will not benefit most Zimbabweans. "If the aim of this program is to empower Zimbabweans then we should not have a limited number of people that belong to certain community trusts," said Hawkins.

Meanwhile, Indigenisation Ministry Legal Adviser Psychology Mazivisa told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that Kasukuwere on Tuesday would announce the consequences for companies which failed to meet Sunday’s deadline to file plans to comply with the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act and related regulations.

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