Abel Zhakata Mutare Bureau
TWO Government ministers have blasted corrupt police officers letting illegal diamond panners into Chiadzwa mining concessions after receiving bribes, saying they were the root cause of seemingly unending security problems bedevilling Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC).
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said corruption was creating headaches for Government, while his Information, Media and Broadcasting Services counterpart Dr Chris Mushohwe lambasted security officers for colluding with criminals.
They made the remarks yesterday in Chiadzwa during a tombstone erection ceremony held at Chitangazuva Reburial site where ZCDC is assisting villagers to properly rebury their relatives.
This follows last week’s incident in which an illegal panner was shot dead while three others were seriously injured after ZCDC guards fired at over 200 panners who had broken into the firm’s premises.
Dr Mushohwe said what boggles the mind was that despite heavy police presence, illegal panners were finding their way right into the Red Zone.
“The ground commanders please help us. Your police officers are deployed everywhere circling the mine but how are the illegal panners finding their way in?”
“Can you tell us what is happening? We are told that vehicles belonging to well-known buyers are getting easy passage into the mining concessions. How do they get in yet we have security boom gates on all roads leading into the mining fields? When those cars pass through those boom gates they will be going where? To do what?
“What surprises is that buses that ferry villagers who live here are not allowed in but foreign vehicles belonging to buyers pass through easily. We want this worrying trend to be corrected immediately,” he said.
Cde Chidhakwa said the corruption was tarnishing the otherwise good image of the police force.
“Security is the most important aspect of diamond mining,” he said.
“Where we do chrome and coal mining, we do not want the police but here in Chiadzwa we want the police. Be true to the objective, be honest, and be the correct true Zimbabwe Republic Police contained in the Constitution.
“Those that are being fingered in these corrupt deals must be removed from Marange and posted elsewhere to look after cattle because here at the diamonds they have failed us.”
Cde Chidhakwa said the diamonds were not for individuals but for the nation.
“The diamonds are the people’s property and your job is to protect them. I rely on you. If you fail me, who else can I look up to for help? If you fail me as the police, who will police the police? The integrity that I know which has made our police force to be recognised globally must be practiced here in Chiadzwa and not only during international duties.
“Restrain yourselves; control yourselves first so that you can control others. With all my heart, I want you to know that some of the hypertension ailments we end up having is because we do not sleep thinking that we will wake up with all the diamonds gone. Give us peace of mind,” he said.
Headman Chiadzwa weighed in saying most of the illegal panners were coming from distant places.
According to arrests statistics with the police, he said, local villagers constituted a small percentage of those that are illegally dealing in diamonds.