By Elita Chikwati
Secretary for Mines and Mining Development Professor Francis Gudyanga reportedly fired the entire management of newly formed Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company and appointed his former student at the University of Zimbabwe to lead the diamond firm.
Parliamentarians yesterday heard that Prof Gudyanga’s appointee, ZCDC acting chief executive Dr Ridge Nyashanu, who is an expert in gold extraction, does not have diamond mining knowledge.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy on the operations of the firm, Prof Gudyanga — who is an interim chairman of ZCDC board — failed to defend his appointments at the diamond firm, prompting the committee to urgently demand reports and minutes of the board.
The committee said failure to supply the information would see Prof Gudyanga being charged with contempt of Parliament.
The committee was concerned with the legalities of certain processes and corporate governance issues and recent developments at ZCDC which they felt were prejudicial to the State.
This included the appointment of a board, dismissal of 11 employees and appointment of an acting CEO who was said to be Prof Gudyanga’s former student, Dr Nyashanu.
The committee said the ZCDC was formed without an Act of Parliament and a board that was not fully constituted was making decisions that were costly to the nation.
Committee chair Dr Daniel Shumba said Prof Gudyanga was not new to governance issues and proper procedures considering that he chaired several boards.
He said the permanent secretary did not have an instrument empowering him to form the company and that the board was not fit to make decisions since it was not fully constituted.
Prof Gudyanga said ZCDC was formed under the Companies Act and was registered.
He, however, confirmed the board was not properly constituted.
Some of the committee members demanded to know whether it was by mere coincidence that the ZCDC board members were all from Manicaland.
“The formation of the ZCDC was done in anticipation that Government will have 50 percent shares while the other 50 percent would come from the private sector. We realised that talks with the private sector had collapsed on 22 February 2016,” he said.
Dr Shumba said the board was unconstitutional and did not have the mandate to hire or fire people.
“You have no mandate to hire people. Do not look surprised. You fire people and meet up with your ex-student and recommend him. You fired chief sorters and replaced them with a company called Heroes Consortium,” he said.
Prof Gudyanga said the people who were fired were on probation and after they completed they were subjected to a polygraph test and failed to shed more light on the issue.
A polygraph, popularly referred to as a lie detector, measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity, while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. It involves inferring deception through analysis of physiological responses to a structured, but unstandardised, series of questions.
Dr Gudyanga also failed to provide figures to the committee on the performance of the diamond sector and also the names of shareholders and owners of diamond companies including Kusena.
Dr Munyaradzi Kereke (Bikita) repeatedly asked questions pertaining to the figures on diamonds of which the professor failed to give.
He had to rephrase questions several times until Prof Gudyanga said 2012 was the year diamonds were at peak though he failed to give exact figures.
“The peak period maybe was around 2012. I think it is in 2012,” he said.
The committee was also concerned why ZCDC was mining gold at Gache Gache area in Kariba when it was a diamond company.
Prof Gudyanga said ZCDC was mining gold because it had the capacity and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had provided funds for the initial start of the mining.
Mr Shumba then queried why the company was not using the same resources to explore diamonds at Chiadzwa.
The committee demanded to know why Prof Gudyanga directed the payment of Pedstock by the ZMDC and the reason for the payment but failed to give details saying the issue was sensitive.
“I have been discussing with various parties and the matter is under investigation. The matter is not yet in the courts. The issue is sensitive, so I cannot say much. “Ndezvenyika izvi,” he said.
ZCDC acting CEO Dr Nyashanu, who appeared before the same committee earlier on, also failed to give satisfactory answers to legislators with some describing him as “bogus”.
The committee had to adjourn to deliberate on his conduct and he was asked to go and prepare a detailed report.
Dr Nyashanu failed to give the structure of the ZCDC or the amount of diamonds that had been exported by the new company.
Dr Shumba warned Dr Nyashanu to be serious and said the committee was not pleased with his conduct.
Dr Nyshanu said he was not aware of the depth of the information required by the committee.
“We are disappointed. You do not have information. You said nothing; we find out that you were ill-equipped because maybe you are only two months in the organisation and do not have experience with diamonds so you need enough time to research on diamonds. You are unaware of the impact of the organisation on the broader sector. You must know the importance of the sector.
“The sector affects Zimbabweans’ livelihoods and economy and the financial stability of the country.
“Meanwhile, we will be taking other litigation steps to save the country from chaos,” he said.
The two were expected to appear again before the committee for further clarifications and were advised to be more prepared as the members will no longer be lenient with them. The Herald