Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zimplats allegedly ‘bribes’ chiefs with boreholes to withdraw community share ownership trust

Platinum giant, Zimplats allegedly bribed chiefs who preside over Mhondoro Ngezi, Chegutu and Zvimba, with boreholes in order to fast-track its plans to withdraw the community share ownership trust without consulting the local people who are supposed to be beneficiaries according to the provisions of the indigenisation laws.

Nehanda Radio last week reported that there was an intention by trustees of the Zimplats Mhondoro Ngezi Chegutu Zvimba Community Trust (ZMNCZ) to undertake an amendment of the deed of trust so that Zimplats will now no longer be required to dispose of the 10% of its shares to communities.

Latest information by sources close to this publication indicate that a number of board members of the ZMNCZ were recently fired after challenging Zimplats’ withholding of the 10% dividend belonging to the communities.

“Trust board members who are challenging Zimplats for withholding of the 10% dividend are being victimised,” a former Zimplats board member who preferred anonymity said.

“I’m one of the people who were served with a dismissal letter after we had written to Chief Ngezi, the Trust chairperson, telling him that the communities needed to know what was happening to their 10% dividends.

“Chief Ngezi then forwarded the letter to Zimplats. We kept on pressing with Zimplats through Busi (Zimplats Holdings head-corporate affairs Sibusisiwe Chindove), promising to respond.

“While we were pushing, Zimplats then went to each Chief’s homestead to drill boreholes, bribing them not to side with the communities. Authorities then decided to fire us with immediate effect simply because we were calling for the 10% dividend. We were told that the term of office had lapsed.

“The company never bothered to compensate us for the work we did. We were punished for demanding the 10% dividend that communities are supposed to be getting from Zimplats according to the country’s indigenisation law.”

Chindove was yet to respond during the time of writing.

Government introduced community share ownership trusts as a strategy to empower rural communities to propel their development. The move is based on the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility whereby corporates are obliged to plough back to the communities.

Despite Zimplats achieving a record revenue breaking performance amounting to US$1,4 billion in the 2021 financial year with tax contributions and royalties amounting to US$404,6 million, the company still did not pay the 10% community dividend.

Zimplats declared a dividend of US$85,000,000 and communities’ 10% share would have been US$8,500,000 but it was not paid.

Recently, Ward 28 Chegutu Rural District Council councillor Tatenda Gwinji expressed concern over the issue in a letter to ZMNCZ chairperson Chief Benhura.

“The community trust was formed to guarantee that our communities benefit from owning 10% shares in Zimplats. Zimplats is required by the deed of trust, under clause 3.2, to dispose of 10% to the communities.

“This is in addition to the USD10,000,000 the communities were given through their Community trust.

“What has become a serious concern is the report on the intention by trustees of the community trust to undertake an amendment of the deed of trust so that Zimplats will now no longer be required to dispose of the 10% of its shares to our communities,” Gwinji said.

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