HARARE – Traditional chiefs yesterday said their communities were yet to receive money from Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOT).
The CSOT is a fund set up to benefit communities surrounding every indigenised business in a drive by President Robert Mugabe to force mines and banks to surrender at least 51 percent shares to locals.
Chief Musarurwa and Chief Marozva told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth, Empowerment and Indigenisation yesterday that they were presented with paper cheques, and no cash.
Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Zanu PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya and chairperson of the portfolio committee, had asked George Magosvonge, permanent secretary in the ministry of Indigenisation, to explain to the committee what had happened to the cash promised under the CSOT.
Musarurwa said since the launch of CSOT last year, their communities have not benefited from the trust, resulting in villagers losing confidence in the scheme.
The chiefs said failure to avail the funds had caused villagers to cast aspersions on the integrity of chiefs.
“We were presented with paper cheques during the launch of the scheme and today these companies have not remitted any funds,” Chief Musarurwa said.
“For example, Bikita Trust Fund only gave out $50 000 and that one was used by the community in various training programmes and it has still to pay some money adding up to $10 million. We are having a situation whereby chiefs, who are the chairpersons of the trusts, are riding on a bicycle to chair a CSOT worth $10 million.”
He said Lafarge Cement was one of the companies that was yet to honour its promise to release funds towards CSOT in Mashonaland East Province.
Chief Marozva said many of the companies had failed to bankroll the CSOT after it was officially launched by President Robert Mugabe last year.
“We are having problems in Bikita as Bikita Minerals has failed the community and people are now complaining about these trusts so we are asking where the money they were promised by the companies is,” Chief Marozva said.
Traditional chiefs chair the CSOT committees in the areas of the jurisdiction.
Magosvonge confirmed that many companies were now reneging on the promises they made to help communities they were operating in with funds.
He said there were 59 CSOT’s in the country and his ministry was going to follow up on the matter.
Meanwhile, Magosvonge insisted that government was taking over majority stakes in all foreign-owned banks in pursuance of the indigenisation law.
Units of Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc operate in the country while South Africa’s Standard Bank Group Ltd and Nedbank Group Ltd. (Ned) also have operations.
Magosvonge said there was no going back on indigenisation of foreign banks operating in the country.
“We have foreign banks operating in this country, that are accessing the deposits from local people who are account holders and our people need a guarantee that our people are owing these banks according to our indigenisation law,” Magosvonge said.
“We have made our position known to the banks that are constantly engaging us with their proposals and are collaborating with us, but it is not going to be one-size-fit-all.”
MDC MP for Mkoba Amos Chimayo had asked Magosvonge to clarify his ministry’s position on the takeover of foreign banks saying there were conflicting statements over the issue.