Daggers out over US$1.2m Chiadzwa windfall

05 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Daggers out over US$1.2m Chiadzwa windfall The US$1.2 million, which is meant to spearhead community development of the Marange area, was availed to the Trust by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC)

The ManicaPost

Lovemore Kadzura
Post Correspondent

TWO antagonistic groups are engaged in serious mudslinging and infighting in a bid to control the US$1.2 million dividend recently allocated to Chiadzwa Community Share Ownership Trust (CCSOT) by a diamond mining company in the area.

The US$1.2 million, which is meant to spearhead community development of the Marange area, was availed to the Trust by Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).

ZCDC is a Government-owned entity that extracts diamonds at Chiadzwa, and the kitty is meant to finance life-changing projects for villagers.

However, that objective risks being scuttled by bickering within the Trust as two rival groups are at each other’s throats to control the fund.

Member of House of Assembly for Mutare West, Honourable Nyasha Marange, is allegedly leading one of the groups, while the other is led by the Trust’s chief executive officer, Dr Hardwork Mukwada.

Dr Mukwada’s group allegedly includes Mr Solomon Marange and maverick businessman, Mr Newman Chiadzwa.

The group was conspicuous by its absence at a meeting called by the political and traditional leadership in Mutare West on Easter Monday.

 

They boycotted the meeting, citing political interference and name dropping.

The other CCSOT executive members are Chief Marange (chairman), Headwoman Phillis Chiadzwa (vice-chairman), Headman Mutsago (treasurer), Mutare West MP, Honourable Nyasha Marange (organising secretary), Mr Chengetai Chanakira and Advocate Paidamoyo Madondo, who convened the meeting.

The meeting was held at Chief Marange’s homestead, but the traditional leader himself was not in attendance, and instead assigned a proxy to represent him.

The trustees are haggling over how the funds should be handled and utilised.

Fears now abound that the fund risks being looted through procurement of over-priced goods and services.

Honourable Marange accuses Dr Mukwada of operating a ghost account with a local bank without the knowledge of other trustees, in which some funds were allegedly deposited by ZCDC.

He alleged that Dr Mukwada squandered the money.

The Mutare West legislator further alleged that Dr Mukwada engaged ZCDC to drill 20 boreholes at a cost of US$100 000 without the consent and knowledge of other trustees.

“There are some bad apples in the Chiadzwa Community Share Ownership Trust who want to benefit at the expense of the community. When I joined the Trust and was appointed organising secretary, I discovered that the Trust has another bank account with Ecobank which other trustees were not aware of. The only signatory to that account was Hardwork Mukwada and we have since rectified that.

“We have since resolved that ZCDC should keep the funds, and for every project we identify, the company will do the procurement on our behalf. Before we engaged ZCDC to stop depositing all funds into our account, Mukwada had already requested that 20 boreholes be drilled at a cost of US$100 000; an amount which we feel was inflated. More so, this was done without the knowledge and consent of other trustees.

“Again, from the funds meant for the administration costs of the trust, Mukwada withdrew US$15 000 without the knowledge of other members. We have since engaged the bank to have additional signatories to the account, which has since been done,” said Honourable Marange.

On the use of the fund, Honourable Marange said since their region was semi-arid, they should prioritise drilling boreholes, construction of small dams, clinics, classroom blocks and acquire an ambulance that will be stationed at Marange Rural Heath Centre to ferry critically ill patients to Mutare.

Dr Mukwada vehemently denied any wrongdoing, and accused the legislator of imposing himself on the Trust.

He accused Honourable Marange of trying to monopolise the fund in his Mutare West Constituency, while ignoring developmental needs and aspirations of Mutare North and two wards recently annexed to Makoni South.

The two wards are under Chief Marange.

Dr Mukwada further said Honourable Marange has developed a tendency of name dropping to impose himself on the Trust and silence other trustees.

He said the US$1.2 million fund is secure as it will not be deposited directly into the Trust’s bank account.

“We made a board resolution (to change the bank) and there are dully signed minutes. It is not true that I am the sole signatory of the account. Kindly reach out to the bank for verification. Kindly get in touch with the chairman of the Trust, who is Chief Marange, and the ZCDC for verification.

“All the projects, according to Government policy, are administered by ZCDC using their relevant departments. I do not run the ZCDC procurement department. These are all lies being levelled against me by (MP) Nyasha Marange who has been trying to monopolise the community dividend and use it to develop his constituency only when in actual fact it should benefit three constituencies straddling across the Marange area.

“He is trying to push out those from Mutare North and Makoni South. He even tried to impose himself as the Trust’s organising secretary; a post which does not exist. He demanded that if we do not incorporate him on the Trust deed, he will not represent our developmental needs to the highest offices.

“He said if he is not made a signatory to the bank account, he will not push for the release of the funds. The funds are secure from any possible interference or hijacking, and they will be used all-inclusively. The dividend is for community-driven development and empowerment projects throughout the Marange area, including communities relocated to ARDA Transau,” said Dr Mukwada.

Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza, on Wednesday called the warring groups to order.

He urged them to close ranks and work in harmony for the benefit of grassroots communities.

Minister Mugadza also applauded ZCDC for ploughing back to the community and implored other businesses operating in the province to emulate the example set by the mining concern.

“Unfortunately, you are the first to brief me on their squabbles. What I know is that they have been trying to secure a meeting with me, and I am now sure that is what they wanted to discuss with me. I am waiting for them to fix an urgent appointment with me so that we iron out those differences. We do not condone factions. They should be united and work for the good of everyone. They should bury the hatchet and work as one unit for the sake of development.

“We expect the US$1.2 million to benefit the entirety of Marange area with sustainable community projects. The money must be invested in health, education and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects of common interest to the communities.

“We expect other companies to follow what ZCDC has done and plough back to communities they operate in. This issue has been on our lips for a very long time, but with very little cooperation. It is time we became serious about it and we expect them to contribute whatever they can,” said Minister Mugadza.

Efforts to get a comment from ZCDC’s spokesperson, Mr Shuga Chagonda, were fruitless as he was said to be in a series of meetings.

Mr Chagonda had promised to get back to us, but had not done so at the time of going to print.

The chairman of the Trust, Chief Marange was also not available for a comment.

 

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