Chiadzwa villagers, miners speak
Lloyd Gumbo recently in Chiadzwa—
Companies that were mining diamonds in Chiadzwa and villagers from the area have called on Government to investigate how $15 billion reportedly leaked from the system and prosecute the culprits. This came up during the tour of Chiadzwa area by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Zanu-PF MP for Gokwe-Nembudziya, Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena, at the weekend.
During his televised 92nd birthday interview on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation last month, President Mugabe revealed that about $2 billion was earned from the precious gems where it is believed that about $15 billion was earned. The villagers also said they wanted the diamond companies to fulfil the $50 million payment that they pledged to the Zimunya-Marange Community Share Ownership Trust.
Anjin Investments deputy general manager, Mr Shingi Manyeruke, told the committee that they could not dispute the alleged leak of $15 billion from diamonds though they did not receive any official complaint about their operations. He said the way they operated made it difficult for any revenue or diamonds to leak.
This prompted MDC-T MP for Chitungwiza North, Mr Godfrey Sithole, to inquire whether Mr Manyeruke meant that their company’s hands were clean.
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Responded Mr Manyeruke: “I didn’t say that its hands are clean. Let me just clarify that. I said when we stand here to speak, I speak of things that we see. The processes that we talked about, the supervision, the weighing, the invoicing, the authorisation that I speak confidently.
“But like I said when these things are said at a higher level, we are talking of Government talking at a higher level, so we can’t just stand here and discount cheaply something that is being said by the Government at the higher level.
“When Government raises a concern like that, $15 billion is a lot of money, it is a serious matter. It needs to be given due attention. It’s not about Anjin saying we don’t know about it, it’s not about Mbada saying we don’t know about it.
“Government is speaking at the high level. It’s showing that there is a concern and when such things happen, the Government has got to do the due processes, to do the investigations so that at least everyone is rest assured if something went wrong and why it went wrong.”
Anjin board member and director, Rtd Brig-Gen Munyaradzi Machacha, said Anjin had only realised about $325 million in the past five years that it had been operating.
“It is way, way below the $15 billion that is supposed to have leaked out of the system. So maybe Government knows better. They have got evidence or they know where the leaks occurred. But even if you were targeting Anjin, we have never produced that kind of value in the five years we have been here. So there is no way we could have transferred it anywhere else unaccounted for because we never had such money anyway,” said Mr Machacha.
But villagers at Gomorefu Business Centre in Bocha had no kind words for the Government and the diamond companies. Nyamariya village head, Mr Willard Mukwada, said Government would know better how the money went missing.
“We believe it’s more than $15 billion that we are being told that went missing. We want Government to tell us where the money went,” he said.
Another villager Mr Moses Zvinoera added: “From the little that is left, we also want to benefit as a community. We don’t want to wait for you to find the person who stole the $15 billion first. We want to benefit now. We need development in this area because we have the resources. Go and tell whoever sent you that Bocha people are suffering.”
Mrs Juliet Ziduche said they felt let down by authorities because the community did not benefit.
“All of you people (MPs) who came here are conmen including Chief Marange because if he cared for us, he would have made sure we benefited. We are struggling to earn a living since diamond mining started. We would see an aircraft every Wednesday morning coming to get diamonds from Chiadzwa in the process polluting the environment,” she said.
However, some villagers said out of all the companies that mined diamonds, Mbada Diamonds stood out as the best in corporate social responsibility programmes.
Chief Robert Chiadzwa said the company introduced a number of projects that benefited the community.
“Yes the other companies would chip in here and there but if we were to grade them, Mbada would be number one because they did a lot of things for us. They were conscious of the people in this area because they graded roads, drilled boreholes and employed some locals at the mine. So I can say of all the companies that were mining here, Mbada was the most friendly because they listened to our concerns,” he said.
The committee also toured St Noah’s College in Mafararikwa in Marange that was built with the assistance of Mbada Diamonds. President Mugabe officially opened the Marange Apostolic-run school in 2012 and it was named after Noah Taguta, leader of the Church.
Headmaster at the school, Mr Cuthbert Rungwe, said Mbada Diamonds helped them in the construction of the school. “We received about $295 000 worth of construction material, school uniforms for all pupils here as well as textbooks. “It is the only mine that assisted us, the rest did not,” said Mr Rungwe.