Government calls time on Marange diamond firms
By Tichaona Sibanda
Government has finally called time on mining firms that have been operating at the Marange diamonds fields in Manicaland, indicating that only one company will remain operating there.
Seven firms operate in Chiadzwa and these are Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds.
There is speculation that Mbada diamonds, linked to Robert Mugabe and chaired by the multi-millionaire retired Air Vice Marshall Robert Mhlanga, is tipped to continue with the mining operations in Chiadzwa.
Lack of transparency surrounding diamond revenues has been a matter of critical public interest. It has deprived the Treasury of much needed revenue and amplified concerns raised by the opposition MDC-T that much of the money from the diamonds only goes to fund ZANU PF and its various cronies.
Economist and MDC-T MP Eddie Cross this week wrote on his blog that at least $7 billion in surplus revenue has been siphoned off from the operation in eight years. He said he estimated that well over 100 million carats were extracted, with a face value of $12 billion during the same period.
Some individuals in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet and senior officers in the armed forces have accumulated vast wealth, adding to suspicions that the country’s diamond revenues are not being accounted for or managed in the public’s interest.
This may have forced government this week to finally crackdown on the mining firms following recent reports of massive looting and corrupt activities in the state owned parastatals. There is also speculation that this is part of ZANU PF’s attempts to appear more transparent, to create a sense of legitimacy to encourage more foreign investment.
However, the state controlled Herald on Thursday said the decision to pull the rug from under the companies’ feet comes after the firms allegedly refused to commit themselves to hand over $10 million each towards the government’s Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust.
But former Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere faces accusations of dishonesty and lying, in the ongoing parliamentary probe into the failed Community Trust, as we reported earlier this month. SW Radio Africa