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Mugabe Launches Community Share Trusts in Matabeleland

President Robert Mugabe on Thursday launched community share ownership trusts in Hwange, Matabeleland North Province, amid reports that some of the funds raised under the controversial black economic empowerment program have allegedly been looted in some regions.

The two schemes for Hwange and Lupane which were launched at the Hwange Colliery Stadium are worth $14.5 million - a contribution from foreign-owned mining firms operating in the two districts.

Government ministers, chiefs and the local communities attended the launch where Mr. Mugabe urged communities to safeguard their resources and use them for their benefit, especially lifting them out of poverty.

The president said his party and government will continue to champion the broad-based empowerment of ordinary Zimbabweans and blasted international firms he claimed are only interested in taking resources from the country without improving the lives of people at the grassroots level.

But there have been concerns that some chiefs have been looting the community share trust funds at the expense of ordinary people.

For perspective on the schemes and how they are benefiting ordinary people, VOA turned to Indigenization Ministry advisor Psychology Maziwisa and the ministry’s Deputy Minister Tongai Matutu of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change formation.

Maziwisa said ordinary Zimbabweans are set to benefit from the trust funds as President Mugabe continues to champion what he claims is the biggest empowerment program in Africa.

But Matutu differed with Maziwisa, charging that the patronage Zanu-PF system would lead to the collapse of the empowerment program.

He accused President Mugabe's party of abusing the program for its own benefit and not ordinary Zimbabweans.