Govt reps connive with mining firms

Govt reps connive with mining firms

Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa addresses a Press conference flanked by his permanent secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga (left) and Chief Government Mining Engineer Charles Tahwa in Harare yesterday

Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has appointed a new board to lead the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation following allegations of gross malpractices by the previous administration, which indicated under declaration of diamond revenue.The new board will be chaired by Mr David Murangari, who will be deputised by former Reserve Bank deputy governor Mr Edward Mashiringwani.

Government also announced new boards for the Mining Affairs and the Mining Promotion Corporation, both chaired by Mines and Mining Development Secretary Professor Francis Gudyanga — though he would do so in an acting capacity on the latter board.

It is feared Government lost millions of dollars when officials it seconded to represent its interests in diamond mining companies connived to under-declare proceeds.

As a result, Government is still struggling to ascertain the value of diamonds mined in Chiadzwa to date.

Announcing the new boards in Harare yesterday, Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa said ZMDC was central to Zimbabwe’s economic development hence the need for it to be powerful and well-structured.

He said there was general consensus among Zimbabweans that things were not well at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

As such, he said, Government was now working on a robust system that would ensure transparency in the operations of diamond mining companies.

As part of the measures, Minister Chidhakwa reiterated Government’s resolve to have at most two companies in Chiadzwa.

“His Excellency the President has approved the appointment of Mr David Murangari as chairman of ZMDC for three years and Mr Edward Mashiringwani as deputy chairperson,” he said.

Other ZMDC board members are Mr Patridge Sibanda, D Karonga, Mr L Akino, Mr C Chitambara, Ambassador Zenzo Nsimbi,  Mr T Nyatsanga and Mrs E Maravanyika.

Members of the Mining Promotion Corporation board are Mr David Murangari (deputy chair) Mr Ambrose Made, Professor Amon Murwira, Mrs Bertha Muzangaza, Mr Brains Muchemwa, Mr Mabasa Hawadi and Mrs Cathrine Machokoto.

Those appointed to the Mining Affairs board are F Mabhena, Mr Mabasa Hawadi, Mr V Vera, Mr CS Tawha, Mr Sidney Simango, Mr B Stone, Mr P Makuni, Ms Mecillina Tshabalala and Mr Paul Zakaria.

Minister Chidakwa said the Mining Affairs board will be responsible for processing all mining titles in Zimbabwe, while the Mining Promotion Corporation is mandated to spearhead comprehensive mineral exploration.

Although there was a Cabinet decision that permanent secretaries should not sit on boards of state-linked firms, Minister Chidakwa said Prof Gudyanga’s chairing of the Mining Affairs and Mining Promotion Corporation boards was in line with the Mines and Minerals Act.

Said Minister Chidakwa: “One of our biggest problems has been that the people we have seconded to some of our mining ventures where we are in joint ventures have not done us as Zimbabweans the favour of doing what it is that we asked them to do when they got to those companies.

“So, we want to ensure that we play a much greater role in the management of those companies. We get full information about what is happening in those companies from exploration to mining, right up to marketing.”

Minister Chidakwa said Zimbabweans were entitled to know the amount of money being accrued from their resources.

“We are determined because Zimbabweans had not gotten really what they expected from Marange,” he said. “Even if it is little, let that little be available to the people of Zimbabwe.”

Minister Chidakwa said streamlining the number of diamond companies in Chiadzwa would help Government monitor operations.

“It will enable us to ensure that the capital requirements not just for alluvial mining but more importantly for kimberlite mining are put in place because we will concentrate our resources on one or two companies,” he said.

“We, as Government, will be able in a much better way to follow the activities of the companies because they are fewer.”

Minister Chidakwa said mining companies that did not want scrutiny were free to leave.

Contrary to claims by some companies that diamond reserves in Marange were almost depleted, Minister Chidakwa said exploration showed the country still had solid diamond reserves.

He said there was not much Government could do about alleged prejudice by mining companies in the absence of substantive evidence.

“… this is why you hear me consistently saying that the people who are chosen to be on boards of organisations such as these public ones need to defend our interests because they will say this is what we mine. You cannot prove that it is not what was actually mined. You can only speculate and speculation cannot take you to any court of law,” he said.

As such, Minister Chidakwa said, it was important to work on a strong system to ensure the State was not prejudiced.

He said President Mugabe also granted 12 Mining Exploration Licenses effective March 13, 2014.

Of the 12 Exploration Licenses, four are exclusive prospecting orders.

Some of the companies that were granted exploration licenses included Fishrake Investments, Waxcrew Investments, Rockrabbit Investments, Omega Coal Distributors and Unified Earth Resources – all with interests in coal mining in Masvingo and Bulawayo.

Minister Chidakwa said minerals exploration was lagging behind as the last exclusive prospecting orders were granted in 2002.

“This signifies a serious shift in policy and heralds a new chapter that should see the mining sector leading in the economic revival of the country as envisaged by Zim-Asset,” he said.

Mining operations in Chiadzwa have been dogged by controversy.

Recently, it emerged mining companies had refused to honour US$50 million in pledges to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust, launched by President Mugabe.

Some denied any knowledge of the existence of the trust.

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