By Alex Bell
Zimbabwe’s new Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa has been urged to reveal the names of people he claims have tried to bribe him since he was sworn into office last year.
Chidhakwa stated in November that he was offered bribes by players in the mining industry shortly after he took over the ministry from his predecessor Obert Mpofu. He would not reveal who the corrupt individuals are, saying:
“I can’t tell you what transpired but what I can tell you is that the private sector approaches many people.”
“The issue of corruption should not be viewed only from the recipient of the bribe, it must also be seen from the perspective of the giver as they are both corrupt, but I was approached,” Chidhakwa said.
A leading lobby group in the mining industry has since called on the Minister to name the people involved in any illicit activity, or else risk being implicated in the corruption said to be raging throughout the industry.
The Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) said in a statement: “The minister must have named and shamed the individual or company that offered the bribe to show that government was serious in fighting corruption.”
“Hiding the name is tantamount to covering up corruption,” the CNRG said.
Chidhakwa’s role as Mines Minister is already under close scrutiny after he dissolved the management boards of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Marange Resources last year.
“The duties and functions of these boards will be assumed by the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Professor Francis Gudyanga until the appointment of new boards,” Minister Chidhakwa said in a statement in December.
Sources quoted by the NewsDay newspaper said the dissolution of the boards was linked to the alleged disappearance of 1.3 million carats of diamonds in 2010, following the breakdown of Canadile Miners, a joint venture diamond mining firm involving the ZMDC.
Alouis Munyaradzi Chaumba, from the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa), said the Minister is trying to “start on a clean slate,” and expressed hope that he was “a new broom trying to sweep out corruption in the industry.” Chaumba also said any attempts to stamp out corruption in the mining sector, particularly in the local diamond industry, are welcome. But he added that little will change unless there is a significant “shift in values.”
“I don’t expect much, because corruption is deep rooted in our society and more so in these state owned companies. So we need to start at the bottom and start educating people about the disadvantages of a corrupt society,” Chaumba said. SW Radio Africa