Home » Governance » Community Trusts Face Audit

Government is carrying out a comprehensive audit of the operations of Community Share Ownership Trusts following allegations that some trusts abused funds while some companies failed to honour their pledges.Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Minister Francis Nhema this week said the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board was conducting the audit to ensure the trusts serve the people and improve livelihoods in line with the objectives of Zim-Asset.

It is understood that about 15 companies have so far disbursed US$31 million to communities they are operating in.

Although in some cases life-transforming projects were undertaken, some trusts were failing to justify their allocations.

Corporate governance experts have queried NIEEB’s capacity to undertake the audit and coming up with an independent result given that it is actively involved in the operations of the CSOTs.

Minister Nhema said the audit was not a witch-hunt, but indicated that Government would get to the bottom of the matter.

“We want to establish whether it is true that there are some trusts who have not used their money wisely and we want an explanation,” he said. “We will then correct the anomalies. We must appreciate that it is the first time that we are having Community Trusts and, therefore, there is need for us to train and educate our people on how the trusts work.”

Minister Nhema said NIEEB was ensuring the CSOTs were registered and that the composition of their boards was properly constituted.

He said the board would also check on the disbursements made and ensure the money was in proper accounts.

“NIEEB will also look at the projects being undertaken by the CSOTs whether they are the projects which the CSOT was established to do.”

With regards to the Marange-Zimunya Trust where mining firms were being accused of reneging on their pledges, Minister Nhema said people who were finger pointing at the companies had not contributed anything towards development in their respective communities.

“The question is, imimi vacho vari kuita curious what have you pledged? I like people who say ini I have contributed this much so also make your contribution.

“That is positivity. We will never develop because our focus is not that of development,” he said.

Minister Nhema said CSOTs were a new concept in Zimbabwe and were not immune to challenges.

“We must also appreciate that we are looking at various stakeholders some of whom have not run a business before, some of whom have never been in governance and therefore it is important to educate them on how to run CSOTs,” he said.

“CSOTs are the answer to development in rural areas because it takes on the needs of the people, the stakeholders are on the ground, they are the ones affected on a daily basis so they respond quickly to issues that they deem to be necessary for the improvement of their lives.”

Corporate governance expert Ms Tsitsi Mutasa said for Government to task NIEEB to undertake the audit was tantamount to marking its own examination paper.

“If Government is really for transparency, it should engage an external person,” she said.

She said NIEEB was actively involved in issues relating to the operating of CSOTs which made it an interested party.

Source : The Herald

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