Home » Business » Black Granite Firms Fail to Raise U.S.$10 Million for Csot in Mutoko

BLACK granite mining companies operating Mashonaland East province face an uncertain future after they failed to meet an ultimatum given by the provincial affairs minister, Joel Biggie Matiza.

The minister had ordered the companies which operate in Mutoko to raise US$10 million for the local Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT) by May 15 or risk having their operations forcibly closed.

CSOTs are a key part of the government’s indigenisation programme which forces foreign companies to localise ownership and control of at least 51 percent of their shareholding.

During a tour of Mutoko last month, Matiza told the companies to pay up or risked forced closure.

“Since 1972, you have been mining black granite and exporting it to other countries,” he said.

“You have made a fortune yet it seems as if you are not willing to contribute to the Community Share Ownership Trust for the development of the district from where you are carrying out your operations.

“To that effect and to make sure that you toe the line, we are giving you up to May 15 to own up or we will force you out of the province because it will then be clear that you want to play hard ball.”

The deadline passed with the companies saying it is impossible to meet Matiza’s ultimatum because business was very low due to the serious economic crisis in the country.

Affected companies include CRG, Natural Stone, Ilford Red and Zimbabwe International Quarry Enterprises.

“The companies support the government’s indigenisation and economic empowerment programmes but business is very low,” said Edward Muvhuro of the Dimension Stone Producers Association – a grouping of black granite mining companies.

However, Matiza has rejected claims that business was poor saying if that was the case the companies would have ceased operations.

It remains unclear what action the government will now take against the companies.

Matiza is unhappy that Mashonaland East remains the only province in the country without a CSOT scheme.

The programme has however, caused controversy in other provinces including at diamond operations in Marange where companies have also refused to pay into the scheme.

Source : New Zimbabwe