Leaders of Zimbabwe's mineral-rich Manicaland Province, home to the Marange diamond fields, are aiming to have a say in setting the agenda for the incoming Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Walter Chidakwa, following what they say is a failure by outgoing Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu to economically transform the province.
The Financial Gazette reports that topping the the agenda of the province's politicians, business community and pressure groups include a demand for the immediate commencement of all diamond-funded developmental projects that were initiated in the province but never came to fruition. One such project the province's leaders wish to see begin is the US$50 million Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT), which was intended to be a transparent vehicle for the proportional distribution of national resources for collective development. One year after the Marange-Zimunya CSOT was officially commissioned by President Robert Mugabe, the coffers are still empty, and there has been no development emanating from its planned utilization, according to the news source.
The leaders also want the new mines minister to reconsider the location of future value-added diamond projects and events. The region is reportedly disgruntled by what is being viewed as "questionable decisions" made by Mpofu to have the construction of a diamond cutting and polishing center in Harare instead of locally, where the diamonds are produced, such as in Marange, or at least in the capital of Manicaland, Mutare.
"It's quite unfortunate that with the past four-and-a-half years under the Government of National Unity Manicaland has achieved little gains despite owning one of the richest diamond fields ever," says Zimbabwe National Resource Dialogue Forum coordinator, Freeman Bhoso, as quoted by The Financial Gazette. "The new minister has a huge task of making sure that the home province of the Chiadzwa diamonds benefits from its wealth in terms of development," he was quoted as saying.