By Blessings Mashaya
Seven diamond mining firms booted out of the Marange mining fields by government must be reinstated, a parliamentary panel has said.
This comes after government in February 2016 ordered seven companies operating in the Marange fields — Anjin, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Jinan, Gye Nyame and Kusena — to stop all mining activities and leave immediately ostensibly because their licences had expired.
The State-run Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) — formed in March 2016 — took over all diamond mining after government had evicted all the firms operating in the Marange fields in the east of the country.
Mines and Energy parliamentary portfolio committee chairperson Temba Mliswa took great exception to a new diamond policy enacted by Cabinet without taking into consideration recommendations made by his committee.
This comes after Mangaliso Ndlovu, the acting Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister, announced that Cabinet had okayed the new diamond policy, without the recommendations to reinstate the booted miners.
Mliswa slated Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando for forging ahead “with the diamond policy without implementing recommendations from the parliamentary committee”.
The diamond policy allows only four companies to undertake diamond mining from exploration, mining, processing, valuation, marketing, beneficiation, value addition, capacity building, security and law enforcement.
“People cheer and say you did a sterling job on the diamond enquiry, but look where we are.
“We are already talking about the diamond policy. The minister (Chitando) was supposed to say we cannot go ahead with the diamond policy, there are recommendations,” Mliswa said.
He said a key recommendation was to stop ZCDC from continuing with operations in Marange because the summarily booted miners’ right to protection of their property in terms of Section 71 (2) of the Constitution had been infringed or harmed by the government’s actions.
Mliswa’s committee had recommended that Cabinet sets aside government decision to eject the miners from Marange.
“We clearly said that the takeover of the diamond was illegal. ZCDC was illegal. But today I read that there is a diamond policy being tabled. If we talk about our (parliamentary) role of oversight, it is to come up with recommendations. Those recommendations were not taken on board. We said that ZCDC must totally not mine,” Mliswa fumed.
“They must allow those who were mining who had those concessions to go back to those concessions. We talk about the rule of law; we need to go back to the rule of law in the new dispensation. They (ZCDC) have continued to mine; they have continued to do what they do. If Parliament cannot be listened to, is there political will?” Mliswa asked rhetorically.
He emphasised the supremacy of Parliament and said the failure to reinstate the booted miners was an affront to the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
“We talk about the unlawful takeover of the diamond mines. We talk about Zimbabwe being open for business, rule of law, the investors coming in. We correct that by allowing an independent institution, Parliament to exercise its oversight and come up with recommendations and investors are comfortable that there is an institution whose role is oversight,” Mliswa said. DailyNews