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Roundup Bulletin No. 19 - 2012
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
May 22, 2012
As indicated in previous
Bulletin, the House of Assembly and Senate adjourned to 5 June and
12 June 2012, respectively. However, this adjournment did not affect
the sitting of Committees of both Houses. Below is a summary of
committees that had oral evidence sessions on Monday 21 may 2012.
Committee on Mines, Energy and Power Development
Mbada Diamond Mine and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC) appeared before the Mines Portfolio Committee as a follow
up to the Committee’s fact-finding visit to Chiadzwa Mining
Fields in March this year. During the Committee’s visit
to Chiadzwa in March, Mbada management was not forthcoming with
information required by the Committee and hence the decision by
Committee to invite the Mbada Board Chairman and ZMDC Chairman.
Regarding the Committee’s
observation that among all the companies operating in Chiadzwa,
Mbada Diamond Mine was the only one which still had not invested
in permanent structures, giving the impression that its operations
were temporary, Dr. Robert Mhlanga (Mbada Board Chairman) said this
was a deliberate strategic decision to put up makeshift structures.
He said government had indicated that all the mines would be allocated
land outside the mining fields to build office accommodation and
residential homes for their employees as well as business service
centres. Hence, the decision not to invest in permanent structures
now. He said the place has since been identified and his company
would embark on building permanent structures in the last quarter
of this year.
On how long his company
has projected its lifespan in Chiadzwa, Dr. Mhlanga said he was
not in a position give a specific timeframe before exhaustive geological
studies have been completed. Dr. Mhlanga informed the Committee
that since its inception, Mbada Diamond Mine has produced 11.9 million
carats of diamonds and conducted sales worth $592.5 million to-date.
He said of this amount, his company remitted a total of $293.5 million
The Committee also heard
that diamond companies were facing serious marketing challenges
because of US/EU “sanctions” on Zimbabwe. Dr. Mhlanga
said despite Zimbabwe being cleared by the Kimberley Process to
sell its diamond, the country did not have access to the US and
EU markets. He said America alone consumed 40% of world diamonds
and since Zimbabwe did not have access to this market; the country
has had to rely on buyers from India and China who offer low prices.
He said because of “sanctions” Zimbabwe was not in a
strong position to leverage the prices of its diamonds to realize
more proceeds for the benefit of the nation.
Dr. Mhlanga informed
the Committee that his company has done a lot through its corporate
social responsibility programme. He said his company has built decent
houses for the relocated families as well as giving them food rations
quarterly ($500 000) and farming inputs every year ($350 000). Service
infrastructure programme, e.g. schools, clinics and road maintenance
have so far been supported to the tune of $460 000. The Committee
also heard that relocated business people have been compensated
to the tune of $900 000. Mbada was also sponsoring a football tournament
at a cost of $1 million and supporting a football team in Mutare,
Buffalo Rangers to the tune of $100 000 annually.
On the partnership arrangement
between ZMDC and the companies mining in Chiadzwa Diamond Fields,
ZMDC Chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa told the Committee that the
shareholding was based on a 50% structure except for Marange Diamond
Resources which is wholly owned by government through ZMDC. Mr.
Masimirembwa said while the 50% shareholding was reflected at Board
level and in terms of dividends, the management was entirely left
to the investor. This therefore, means that government was not represented
at management level in Mbada Diamond Mine, DMC and Anjin Mine. However,
Mr. Masimirembwa was quick to allay the fears of Committee Members
and said ZMDC has resolved that in future concessions, the agreement
would be amended to ensure that government was represented also
at management level.
Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education
received oral evidence from the Zimbabwe
National Students Union (ZINASU) on challenges students were
facing in tertiary institutions in the country. The students representatives
informed the committee that the biggest challenge students were
facing was lack of adequate government funding to the education
sector. The scrapping off of students loans and grants by government
have left students exposed to economic and social problems such
as inability to pay their tuition fees and accommodation as well
as money to buy text books, food and clothes. ZINASU representatives
also decried the dilapidated infrastructure in most tertiary institutions.
They also pointed out over-crowding in most of the colleges which
has resulted in a scramble for little available resources. For instance,
ZINASU told the Committee that the current student population at
of Zimbabwe was 16 000 yet the institution only had 700 computers
for use by students. They said in most colleges the computer-student
ratio was on average 1:100, a situation which they said was untenable
for their research studies.
ZINASU also bemoaned
lack of academic freedom in tertiary institutions. They alleged
that security details were always seen roaming the campuses, ostensibly
to instill fear in students so that they remained docile.
The students were also
against exam structure whereby the course work constituted 60% of
the final mark. They said this system was open to abuse and fraud,
as some students could easily outsource their coursework.
Activities of other Committees
scheduled to receive oral evidence this week, will be reported in
our next Bulletin.
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