Diamonds audit stalls — minister
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Government audit into the disappearance of diamonds worth billions of dollars in Marange has been stalled by court challenges and inaccessibility to relevant information from firms that used to extract gems in Chiadzwa, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the issue of accessing information for auditing purposes remains a challenge after courts ruled in favour of the Government and were pursuing other mechanisms to get the required evidence.
Minister Chidhakwa said this in Senate on Thursday last week while responding to questions from senators.
Midlands Senator Lillian Timveous (MDC-T) had asked Minister Chidhakwa what his ministry was doing to account for the $15 billion which President Mugabe had indicated was lost in Marange diamond fields. In response, Minister Chidhakwa said Government appointed three firms to conduct a forensic audit, but the exercise had been stalled initially owing to court challenges by the mining firms that used to extract diamonds who sought court intervention to nullify the decision by the State not to renew their special grants.
“The contracted (audit) companies could not have unfettered access to information that was required because the companies which they wanted to do forensic audits on were in fact before the courts. We re-started the activity for some of the companies once the court cases had been decided upon and we realised that issues of information still remain a problem. We have now crafted a new path and have opted for the use of technology to access and be able to establish exactly how much was moved from the ground,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
“From there, we will work out how many diamonds were lost in the process. It is not an easy thing to do but I want to assure this House that we are aware of the importance of this matter to Zimbabweans. I want to assure honourable senators here that we will do the best we can to get hold of the matter. Whatever the private sector companies will find, we will bring that to Parliament.”
He said the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company currently extracting diamond at Chiadzwa had mined 1,3 million carats and would engage a Botswana based firm to value them before selling the minerals.
“The reason we have not been selling is because our systems for evaluation had been compromised. We have had to ask the Tswanas to come and they are coming in next week to assist us with the valuation of those diamonds and after that we will have a new system,” said Minister Chidhakwa.
Responding to another question, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Obedingwa Mguni said police had reduced the number of roadblocks in the country in line with Government policy to leave them at a minimum to allow tourist movements.
Deputy Minister Mguni said he had moved around the length and breath of the country and observed that the number of roadblocks were less than they were before.
Matabeleland South Senator Bheki Sibanda (MDC-T) had asked why roadblocks had in fact, increased since Government promised to reduce the number.
“I am wondering why he is saying they have increased because if you go from Harare to Bulawayo now you know where they are. There are now four roadblocks along the Bulawayo road, but they were more than that before. One would stop after every 20 kilometres. So, we have reduced those roadblocks,” said Deputy Minister Mguni.