By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
02 April 2014
The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has been assigned new leadership this week, with Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa selecting a fresh board.
The new board will be chaired by David Murangari, who will be deputised by former Reserve Bank deputy governor Edward Mashiringwani. Chidhakwa said the ZMDC was “central to Zimbabwe’s economic development,” amid the general consensus that corruption was draining the Chiadzwa diamond fields dry. He said that the government was now working on a “robust system” that would ensure transparency in the operations of diamond mining companies in Marange.
Ironically, it was the Herald newspaper that gave the most accurate depiction of the situation, by mistakenly titling the article ‘Government connives with mining firms’. Such connivance by ZANU PF has for years been highlighted as the real reason for the missing diamond millions in Marange, with the party previously accused of using the cash to finance a parallel government.
Minister Chidhakwa meanwhile last year dissolved the management boards of the ZMDC, the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and Marange Resources, amid allegations of serious malpractice and suspected corrupt activities.
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.
The MMCZ and the ZMDC have both been embroiled in allegations of corruption recently. In September 2013 Robert Mugabe accused former ZMDC board chairman Godwills Masimirembwa of being involved in a $6 million fraud deal with a Ghanaian investor. Mugabe later back tracked on this accusation.
And then in November last year, a report by the news and analysis website Africa Confidential named the former MMCZ board chair, Chris Mutsvangwa, as being a key architect of arms-for-minerals deals with Russia and China. Mutsvangwa, who was the former Zimbabwe ambassador to China, is now the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.