By Farayi Machamire
Parliament has postponed the hearing of Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu summoned to answer to the controversy surrounding the missing diamond revenue estimated at a staggering $15 billion.
Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy chairperson Temba Mliswa said Mpofu, who was the minister of Mines and Mining Development from February 2009 to September 2014, will now appear before the committee on Thursday.
Other high-ranking officials set to appear before the same committee are Mpofu’s successor Walter Chidakwa who served in the same portfolio between September 2014 and November 2017 as well as former Finance minister Ignatius Chombo.
“Out of respect of Morgan Tsvangirai’s funeral, we will postpone Monday and Tuesday’s parliamentary portfolio committee for Mines and Energy oral evidence appearances to Thursday and Friday,” Mliswa said.
Mpofu had been invited to appear before the committee to give an insight into what could have transpired regarding the missing $15 billion.
He was also set to explain issues around how licences were given to mining companies and the role played by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
In 2016, Mugabe made startling claims that his government could not account for a jaw-dropping $15 billion lost through nefarious activities by players involved in the extraction of the gems in Chiadzwa.
“We’ve not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we’ve exceeded $2 billion, yet we think more than $15 billion has been earned,” Mugabe told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television on the occasion of his 92nd birthday.
Long before Mugabe had made the claims, an international diamond watchdog campaigning against blood diamonds had released a damning report in 2012 alleging that more than $2 billion worth of diamonds had been salted away from the Chiadzwa fields.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) also claimed that Mugabe’s inner circle, together with some international dealers and a large network of criminals, had connived in “the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil Rhodes”.
The fields in Chiadzwa or Marange are considered to be one of the world’s biggest deposits of diamonds.
They are located in Manicaland Province, a few kilometres outside the mountainous City of Mutare.
While the gems were discovered decades ago, a diamond rush only ensued in 2006, resulting in Mugabe’s government deploying the military to restore order.
There were reports that several lives were lost during clashes between the army and diamond panners.
At the height of organised mining in Marange, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Kusena and Gye Nyame were some of the companies that were involved in the extraction of the gems in conjunction with ZMDC. DailyNews