Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
COTTON companies in Gokwe-Nembudziya must make meaningful contribution to villagers in the area through corporate social responsibility, the National Assembly member for the constituency, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena has said.
Cde Wadyajena made the remarks on Saturday when he met heads of Government departments in the district, cotton companies and traditional leaders at Nembudziya Growth Point.
He also raised the same subject later in the day when he addressed people who gathered at the graduation ceremony of about 300 youths who went through an Integrated Skills Outreach Programme in the constituency. There are at least nine cotton companies in Gokwe Nembudziya.
A number of villagers led by their traditional leaders and the district administrator, Mr Fortune Mupungu, complained that cotton companies did not contribute meaningfully to the community.
“In the district people depend on cotton because it is their product that gives them a livelihood,” said Mr Mupungu.
“If you go to Zvishavane you find that mining companies have done wonders in developing the area. We also expect cotton companies here to help in the construction of schools and roads.”
Chief Nembudziya said the prices of cotton also made it difficult for farmers to earn a living from the crop.
“Farmers are being paid $60 per bale making it difficult for them to send their children to school. They are also failing to buy food,” he said.
Headsmen Munande Mudzingwa and Nelson Mkhosana bemoaned inputs prices from cotton companies who contracted them saying they valued them at about $40 for a 50kg bag of fertiliser.
But cotton companies representative Mr Dennis Mutemeri claimed that the firms provided fuel for the uplifting of a bridge that was washed away by rains.
But Cde Wadyajena would have none of it, demanding that the companies do more.
“The fuel that you contributed for the bridge cannot be called corporate social responsibility because you did it for your trucks to connect to your cotton collection points,” he said.
“Cotton is our source of livelihood here so we expect you to make meaningful contributions. The price of $0.30 per kg is too little considering the inputs that they put. You should also be lenient with parents. Don’t send debt collectors. You should agree on payment plans.
“I am also giving you the responsibility as cotton companies here to help in the construction of a primary school because pupils are walking long distances to the nearest school yet you are making profits from their product.”
Cde Wadyajena said Government was also in the process of aligning existing laws to the Constitution to bar child marriages.
He added that Parliament would continue to fight corruption that hindered development in the country.
“As long as President Mugabe is supporting our cause we will not tire or be afraid to carry out the mandate,” he said.