…Media urged to tell the ‘true’ Zim diamond mining story as conflict free
THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has committed to improve on its Corporate Social Investment (CSI) projects in its immediate mining communities in Manicaland and nationally at large, Easterntimeszim (ETZ) has learnt.
This was said today (Wednesday) during a media workshop in Mutare for local and international media journalists organized by the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) in conjunction with ZCDC.
ZCDC head of public relations and community development Sugar Chagonda said already the company is adhering to its three tier CSI pillars which abide by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) bench-marking standards.
“The question is what makes a diamond become classified as a blood diamond? We must adhere to respecting the interests of our three tier pillars. Tier 1- the local community where we mine, Tier 2-Maniclanad Province which is the respective mining province and then Tier 3- the national obligations such as taxes and royalties. These are critical in making our diamonds KPCS compliant. The KPCS also has a triangular approach where there is government, business and civic society organisations (CSOs) and we are taking heed of all the concerns of these parties in our diamond mining,” said Chagonda.
As part of its CSI, Chagonda said ZCDC is now procuring locally all the horticultural produce and food consumables used at its Chiadzwa mine as well as other basic inputs used at the mine, which amounts to around US$60 000 spent locally every month. “This is to support local businesses in Manicaland and help develop the communities we are operating in. We are executing our business in line with international standards and this is what our communities also want to avoid unnecessary conflicts,” said the head of public relations and community development.
This comes as a positive response to the outcry before ZCDC started operations in 2016, when Manicaland business operators bemoaned being sidelined on tender bids to supply the then diamond companies that were mining in Chiadzwa. In 2018 some of the villagers also staged a demonstration against ZCDC and accused the company of failing to create jobs for locals to eradicate poverty in the area among other issues.
Chagonda added that at the moment they are also addressing the contentious issues of refurbishment of defective houses in ARDA Transau in Odzi where most Chiadzwa villagers were relocated. A substandard job was done by some of the building contractors on some of the houses in ARDA Transau. Chagonda said these were legacy issues they are inheriting from their predecessors that they are obligated to take over, which is what they are now working on.
Zimbabwe is the seventh largest diamond producer in the world but has over the years had little to show off for this, but the ZCDC mines manager Admore Mangoma who was representing the chief executive officer said this will soon be overturned. Mangoma said given that ZCDC has only been operational for about seven years, whilst most renowned diamond mining companies in Botswana and South Africa have been in business for over 40 years to have the respect they command, the trajectory set by ZCDC in a short space of time proves it is on track and will be a leading player in the diamond industry soon.
ZCDC group human resources manager Lovet Wadawareva also presented data to attest how their three tier pillars on community development and putting community interests first is now enshrined in their recruitment of employees. “We currently have a complementary staff of 1838 where locals constitute 1133 whilst females are 13 percent. Of which, 60 percent of the skilled operatives in Grade B2 to C5 are all locals,” he said.
The Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Honourable Advocate Misheck Mugadza in his opening remarks at the event said the media shapes public perception and has a crucial role in shaping the brand Zimbabwe.
“The Second Republic under the vision of His Excellency, the President Cde Dr E.D Mnangagwa is implementing an engagement and reengagement framework. The media fraternity plays a pivotal role in the implementation of this framework of which negative perceptions about our country minimise the value that we derive from our natural resources,” said Minister Mugadza.
The resident Minister said diamond mining is part of their strategic development plan to lead the transformation of Manicaland and Zimbabwe at large. He revealed that his Office is informed that ZCDC has set a target of US$6 million as part of its corporate social responsibility, contributing towards the improvement of health, education and infrastructure among others things.
“Allow me to encourage ZCDC leadership here present to continuously invest more towards uplifting the livelihoods of the people of Manicaland and Zimbabwe at large through embarking on more initiatives which support our communities,” he said.
In 2016 Government nationalized its diamond mines and revoked the licenses of all the seven diamond mining companies, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments Ltd, Diamond Mining Company, Gyn Nyame Resources, Jinan Mining Ltd, Kusena Diamonds and Mbada Diamonds, that were operating in Chiadzwa, citing failure to remit taxes and royalties as the main reason among other concerns. This led to the establishment of ZCDC, which has been operating uptodate. Before the disbanding of mining companies that were operating in Chiadzwa, surrounding communities and the people of Manicaland at large, felt short changed as there was little to show from the Chiadzwa diamond proceeds.
The ploughing back thrust by ZCDC will therefore come as a game changer that will reignite the vision of seeing Mutare, the capital city of Manicaland, grow into a robust diamond city with modern infrastructure and flourishing businesses from the diamond proceeds as well as value addition of all the natural resources in the resource rich province.
The media training workshop will also include a tour of the ZCDC Chiadzwa mine tomorrow (Thursday) to give the media firsthand experience of the operations at the mine and to also see some of its CSI projects being undertaken by the diamond mining company.