By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
24 March 2014
The fallout over the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust intensified last week, as it emerged that Chiadzwa diamond miners could face perjury charges after they professed ignorance over the scheme.
In 2012 the then Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere presented President Robert Mugabe with a $50 million cheque which he said was money pledged by five mining firms to ensure proceeds from diamonds benefitted local communities.
Out of that amount only $400,000 was remitted, with officials from the mining firms distancing themselves from Kasukuwere’s claim that they had pledged $10 million each, when they appeared before parliamentarians two weeks ago.
Some said they only pledged $1.5 million each, while others professed complete ignorance of the existence of the Trust.
Former Mines Minister Obert Mpofu infuriated Kasukuwere further when he too expressed ignorance regarding the existence of the share ownership scheme.
On Friday the State-run Herald newspaper published letters which it said showed that the State had written to the firms regarding their $10 million pledges.
The letters were allegedly written by National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board head Mike Nyambuya, reminding the firms to pay up.
Kasukuwere also reportedly wrote two letters to Mpofu asking him to ensure the miners met their obligations.
But officials from Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company denied any knowledge of the letters to the Herald.
Acting Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda has said if it is proved that the officials lied to the legislators they could be charged with perjury.
Political and economic analyst Joy Mabenge said the whole saga summarises the dishonesty surrounding the diamond mining at Chiadzwa.
“I am not sure who exactly between the mining firms and government ministers is being dishonest, but whatever the case is communities must benefit from the natural resources found in their areas.
“This shows that there was something fishy about these community share ownership trusts. There was secrecy, lack of transparency and a lack of accountability and this is sitting right in the middle of what is happening in the country in general where there is pervasive corruption and dishonesty.”
Mabenge said if ex-Mines Minister Mpofu was indeed unaware of the existence the community trust, this would be a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left was doing in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
“But it’s not clear what exactly Mpofu was not aware of because this scheme was publicly launched by ZANU PF leader President Mugabe. So someone in ZANU PF is fooling the public.”
Last week the government, through Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa and finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, threatened to get rid of all mining firms at Chiadzwa and possibly leaving just one body to continue operating.
The ministers said this would help address the revenue loss at the diamond fields where Treasury has only received $500 million, with the rest unaccounted for.
Observers have already dismissed the planned clampdown as window dressing, meant to pave the way for the planned takeover of the mining concessions by Mbada Diamonds, which is linked to Mugabe’s close ally Robert Mhlanga.
“The State is already involved in the Chiadzwa diamond mining activities. State enterprises, including the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, have been heavily involved but still little revenue reached the national purse,” said Mabenge, who also heads the economic justice lobby group, the Zim Coalition of Debt and Development.