By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, February 27, 2016 – ZIMBABWE’S opposition parties have roundly condemned the forced closure of diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa by government, although admitting the country has never benefitted since gems were discovered in the area 2006.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa last week ordered the half dozen firms operation in Chiadzwa to halt their lucrative mining operations immediately and three months to remove their equipment from the site.
Chidhakwa said the firms had resisted a government directive to combine their operations to form one mining conglomerate under government control.
There are six miners in Marange, including Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds. The government holds 50 per cent shareholding in all the firms.
The decree was met with mixed feelings among Zimbabweans especially villagers who were displaced from the area when mining operations commenced in Marange.
Others were quick to allege breach of business ethics by a government known for expropriating businesses from perceived enemies.
In separate interviews with RadioVOP on Friday, political parties also slammed President Robert Mugabe’s regime for the mine closures saying this has spotlighted on the 92-year-old failed leadership.
Jacob Mafume, spokesperson for the Tendai Biti led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) noted the country has never benefited from the gems but still found fault with government for its decision to shut down the mines.
“While it is common cause that the companies operating in Marange have been responsible for large scale looting of our national resources and thus depriving Zimbabweans of the much needed resources for development, they (companies) did so with the express blessing of the same government which today is crying foul,” Mafume said.
He added: “Since 2009, the nine companies operating in the Marange diamond fields have been exporting diamonds collectively worth $2 billion annually but the government which had 50 per cent stake in these firms ironically received less than $300 million in revenue. This is criminal and unacceptable.”
Kurauone Chihwayi, spokesperson of the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube said his party was not convinced by the reasons given by the Zanu PF led government in closing the mines.
“We are not convinced by the explanations given by Zanu PF sharks,” he said.
“The Zanu PF crooks should provide figures instead of closing down mines and pretend to be smart when they actually presided over the looting of our diamonds.
“We are demanding facts and stock figures from the Zanu PF sharks. What is crystal clear is that they have an evil intention to loot the gems to fund their violent electoral campaigns.
“The money is likely to fund factional fights that are likely to send Zanu PF to the grave yard. The closure of these mines will open a can of worms.”
Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe (RDZ) spokesperson Pishai Muchauraya said the closure of diamonds was part of Zanu PF’s looting habits.
“We think it has nothing to do with coming up with sound mining systems but a way of trying to cause confusion and loot in the process,” he said.
“We are worried about the locals who were displaced by those companies without full compensation. It means they are going to lose completely.”
Muchauya also said the widely condemned mine seizures in Marange had roots to current succession fights within Zanu PF.
Since the country’s army had also been enjoying mining rights in Marange, Muchauraya said, the mine closures could as well have been an attempt by President Mugabe to spite army chiefs who are viewed to be linked to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s faction.
Team Lacoste, as Mnangagwa’s faction is called, is involved in a tussle for Zanu PF with another group, Generation 40 which is rooting for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband.