Source: Indigenisation and Empowerment Act under review – Sunday News Mar 26, 2017
Vincent Gono, Features Editor
THE country’s Indigenisation and Empowerment Act is being reviewed to ensure there is a marked improvement in the Ease of Doing Business as well as promotion of investment opportunities, an official has said.
The review comes at a time when a number of hiccups in its enforcement have been noted among them the fact that only 26 out of the 61 registered Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) are functional and $40 million out of the pledged $128 506 million having been disbursed so far.
The review is expected to address the challenges that are being faced by those CSOTs that have failed to kick off despite the pledges that have been made by the companies in line with Government thrust to up the standards of living in communities where the companies are operating.
Speaking to Sunday News in an interview, chief executive officer of the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) Mr Wilson Gwatiringa said there had been significant enforcement of the law to ensure adherence by the companies.
NIEEB was constituted and mandated to ensure compliance of companies with the law. He said the law was being reviewed in line with the country’s thrust of promoting the Ease of Doing Business in the country adding that the review was expected to tackle the challenges that those that have failed to comply have been facing.
“Yes, we have 61 registered Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) in the country, 60 of which are rural and only one is urban. Of these, 26 have been capitalised and are functional. They have embarked on a number of social, infrastructure and economic empowerment projects in their respective communities in line with their mandate.
“On the issue of pledges, we have qualifying businesses in the resource based sector that pledged seed capital to CSOTs and the correct position is that the total amount pledged is US$128 506 million of which close to US$40 million has so far been disbursed. Qualifying businesses with outstanding pledges are being engaged by Government for them to honour their pledges,” said Mr Gwatiringa.
The NIEEB CEO said of the US$128 506 million seed capital pledged, close to US$40 million has so far been disbursed to 26 CSOTs in nine of the country’s 10 administrative provinces. The only province without a funded CSOT in the country, according to NIEEB, is Bulawayo. He said all funded CSOTs in the country were functional.
On how Community Share Ownership Trusts have managed to achieve their objective of transforming the lives of the communities where they have been established amid allegations of funds abuse by community leaders, Mr Gwatiringa said the functional CSOTs were doing great in terms of social service provision in communities. He was quick to rubbish allegations of funds abuse by community leaders.
“CSOTs are involved in programmes and projects that are aimed at improving the living standards of their respective communities. They have done a lot in terms of social services provision, that is construction or development of education, health such other social facilities, infrastructure development (dams, roads and electricity infrastructure) and economic empowerment projects.
“Allegations of funds abuse by community leaders are unfounded and very unfortunate, we urge media houses to go on the ground and get accurate information on the operations of CSOTs so that they appreciate the amount of work that they are doing in communities and write their articles from an informed point of view,” he said.
He said the CSOTs concept was working well, adding that one of the key features in the structure and modus operandi of CSOTs was that decisions on the selection of projects to be implemented by CSOTs in their communities were done by the communities themselves through their participation in community needs identification surveys and community engagement programmes.
“To this end, projects and programmes embarked upon by CSOTs have gone a long way in addressing pressing needs in these communities. We have schools that have been established with the support of CSOTs in areas which previously did not have any and pupils used to walk for 15km or more one way, to the nearest school,” said Mr Gwatiringa.
He noted that NIEEB in conjunction with line Government ministries would continue engaging companies that were failing to comply.
Community Share Ownership Trusts (CSOTs) were launched in 2012 by President Mugabe in terms of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act .
Govt reviews Indigenisation and Empowerment Act
26 out of 61 registered CSOTs functional
US$128 506 million seed capital pledged
Only US$40 million disbursed so far to the 26 CSOTs
Bulawayo only province without funded CSOT