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By Stanley James

 

As Government has launched the Community Share Ownership Trust Policy to ensure participation in shareholding in businesses by communities living in areas where companies exploit natural resources, there is optimism among the business community that the plan will in the long term lead to the development of marginalised areas across the country.

The pilot Community Share Ownership Scheme which was unveiled in Chegutu, Mhondoro-Ngezi and Zvimba communities by the Head of State and Government and Commander- in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, President Robert Mugabe on Thursday this week has raised a sense of hope among the business community that the plan will lead to the development of various communities around the country.

While the trusts are a vehicle for broad-based participation in shareholding in businesses by communities living in areas where the companies exploit natural resources and proceeds from such participation are used for the provision of social and economic infrastructure for these communities in line with their priorities, the  Zimbabwe Miners Federation President,  Mr. Trynos Nkomo says the scheme will see communities deriving direct benefits from the operations of  large companies and multinational entities.

While the historic launch of the Trust has resulted in Zimplats, a foreign-owned mining firm operating within the Chegutu, Mhondoro-Ngezi and Zvimba areas, giving a 10% shareholding to the local community as well as offering US$10 million to the local community to be disbursed over a three-year period, a local entrepreneur Mr. Samuel Mudavanhu says government should ensure that Zimplats profits translate into the growth of capital projects in the community.

Taking into account the fact that the Community Share Ownership Scheme was unveiled at a time when government is forging ahead with the indigenisation policy, concern is also being raised on the manner in which some of the foreign-owned conglomerates are allegedly siphoning profits out of the country.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, Mr. Andrew Matiza says there is need to ensure accountability for the benefit of locals.

While government says it has also approved the Marange Community Share Trust while other trusts are being considered, Zimbabweans are keen to assess whether companies will fulfill their obligations by developing communities in which they operate.