In the spirit of dialogue, Silveira House hosted the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Community Share Ownership Trusts in a meeting held at the Silveira House. Since the installation of the Ministry as parent to the Trust by President Emmerson Mnangagwa under the new political dispensation, no formal meetings had been held between the two. A number of issues needed clarification since the amendment of the Finance Bill and the Indigenization Act which negatively affects the operations of the Trusts. Hence, the meeting was both an opportunity for the two to dialogue officially and also to discuss the gray areas emanating from the new policy framework.
The Trust was well represented by members from Mondoro-Ngezi, Chegutu, Zvimba, Bindura, Gwanda, Goromonzi, Shamva, Mazowe, Umguza, Bubi, Hwange, Tongogara, Mberengwa, Shrugwi, Mutoko, Zvishavane and Harare-Mabvuku-Tafara, 41 delegates in total. Mr Never Katiyo, a legal advisor to the Ministry, presented the key-note address on behalf of the Minister. In the address, he raised concerns over the Trust overlooking the Ministry in the establishment of its National Apex Council. This, the Ministry feels, is a development it should have been consulted on before action was taken. Concerning the petition letter that was sent to the present by the Trust highlighting some anxieties over changes to the Indigenization Act, the Ministry also brought to the attention of the trust the need to follow protocol, that is, address complaints to its office before reaching out to an office as high up the hierarchy as the President’s. Mr Katiyo went further to express the Ministry’s willingness to work with the Trust. Measures are being taken to establish structure for the two parties’ future engagement. Clarification was also given on the Ministry’s full control over the Indigenization Policy and its role as the parent Ministry to the CSOTs.
The Minister of Industry and Commerce exhorted the CSOTs to begin engaging various businesses and development partners to advance the interests of the people they represent. The CSOTs were also encouraged to develop and manage value chains, increase efforts on infrastructure development, uphold good corporate governance practices, and conduct effective research and knowledge management systems. Lastly, the CSOTs were advised to draw up a comprehensive list of the qualifying businesses that are failing to comply with the requirements of the Trusts.
The meeting was not a one way dialogue as representatives of CSOTs present also got opportunity to report on various milestones they achieved since their inception. Umguza CSOT reported that they bought a borehole drilling machine which has since been used to drill approximately 100 boreholes in their district. The machine is currently being used for income generation through hiring it out for a fee. Tongogara CSOT also bought a borehole drilling machine and disbursed a sum of $25, 000.00 to each ward towards community development. Shamva CSOTs reported mainly on borehole drilling activities. In Zvishavane, the CSOT dedicated itself to building classrooms at schools, furnishing them and also building roads and clinics. In addition to classrooms roads and clinics, the Bindura CSOT engaged in the construction of dams and irrigation schemes. Bubi CSOT reported precisely that they built and furnished 3 classrooms, bought 7 wheel chairs for people living with disabilities, bought 2 mining compressors and a truck.
The Harare Mabvuku-Tafara CSOT had unique responses to social problems among them providing Danhiko with a reliable source of clean water, establishing a bursary scheme, and initiating the establishment of a waste management facility that produces fertilizer from waste products. Last but not least, Mhondoro-Ngezi CSOT embarked on infrastructure development projects such as drilling boreholes, building an x-ray block at Banket, bought 2 ambulances, 2 land cruiser vehicles, constructed clustered houses and acquired some shares in Sable Holdings. They also engaged in poultry and horticulture projects establishing two companies and bought equipment for roads construction.
One can tell from the presentations that Community Share Ownership Trusts play a crucial role in the development of communities. The lack of adequate funding mainly due to non-compliance of qualifying businesses remain the biggest challenge to the capitalization of CSOTs. For instance, only 26 out of 61 CSOTs reported ever receiving funds from businesses. It is our hope that the dialogue generated the anticipated drive for both government and the CSOTs to work together towards unlocking the potential of local communities in development work. The successes registered by some CSOTs should inspire those still failing to take off. The government in its reformation programme can also take on board the agenda of community development through existing local structures such as the CSOTs. The much expected devolution of powers in the new dispensation should build on these efforts that have already demonstrated their efficacy.