Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter—
Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri has invoked her powers in terms of the Constitution to direct forensic audits to be conducted on three diamond firms that were resisting financial examination as efforts to establish the potential loss estimated to be $15 billion intensify. Mbada, Anjin Investments and Jinan had been resisting to have their books of accounts audited by the AG following Government’s decision to consolidate all the seven mining firms into one after their licences expired.
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The three companies have since approached the courts challenging the decision to have them consolidated in addition to their decision to reject an audit to establish if there was financial malfeasance during their tenure at Marange, Manicaland Province.
Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Corporation Gye Nyame and Kusena have already been incorporated into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company, while DTZ that was at Chimanimani, has been exempted from the consolidation since Government did not have direct interest.
The dispute arising from the firms’ resistance to be consolidated has seen a slump in production from 500 000 carats per month to 150 000 as no work was being carried out in the disputed areas. Secretary for Mines and Mining Development Professor Francis Gudyanga said they had since written to the three firms advising them to cooperate with the AG.
“The Auditor-General has invoked her powers in terms of the Constitution to say where Government has an interest, her office can come in and audit such entity. In this case Government has an interest through its 50 percent shareholding held by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation,” said Prof Gudyanga.
The decision to have a forensic audit on the diamond firms at Chiadzwa comes as the nation waits with a lot of anxiety on how much the country could have been prejudiced in leakages amid indications that $15 billion could have been lost in revenue.
Prof Gudyanga said only Russian owned, DTZ was an exception as Government did not have a direct interest but would use figures from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Mines and Mineral Corporation of Zimbabwe to audit it and have a clear picture of diamond production during its time.
“Their basis to refuse the forensic audit has been that their books have always been audited. But to us we believe we have a legitimate cause for demanding the forensic audit to establish what has been happening. We need to have a clear picture, remember there are reports that the country could have lost $15 billion, so it is important that we have such an audit,” said Prof Gudyanga.
“We are currently producing 150 000 carats per month because of their defiance, had we been operating at full throttle we should be producing about 500 000 carats,” said Prof Gudyanga.
Section 309 (2) of the Constitution provides as follows: “The functions of the Auditor-General are—(a) to audit the accounts, financial systems and financial management of all departments, institutions and agencies of government, all provincial and metropolitan councils and all local authorities; (b)at the request of the Government, to carry out special audits of the accounts of any statutory body or government-controlled entity.”
Prof Gudyanga said they would soon apply for an eviction order to have the companies leave the premises to allow diamond mining to resume so as to and increase output. “They cannot hold the country to ransom. They failed to renew their licences and that was not our fault as Government,” said Prof Gudyanga.