By Dylan Murambgi
Harare, October 26, 2016 – A PARLIAMENTARY committee led by a top ally to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has recommended a criminal probe against under-fire minister Saviour Kasukuwere for alleged deceit in handling the bungled Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (M-Z CSOT) while he was still in charge of the youth and indigenisation portfolio.
Kasukuwere, now Local Government Minister, is in the eye of the storm for lying to President Robert Mugabe and the nation that diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa had pledged a combined $50 million towards the scheme.
This was later dismissed by the miners, namely Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources and Jinan Investment, after Kasukuwere had invited President Mugabe for the launch of the scheme in July 2012.
During the launch, a cheque of $1,5 million was displayed.
To date, only $400,000 contributed by Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds has been remitted, of the $50 million in pledges.
This has stalled development programmes in Marange while chiefs and villagers in the area are reportedly angry with the Zanu PF led government for failing to pin down the companies into fulfilling their pledges.
The debacle prompted an enquiry into the matter by the Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Committee led by Gokwe-Nembudziya MP, Justice Mayor Wadyajena which has found Kasukuwere a good candidate for criminal investigations.
“The Committee is persuaded to conclude that the diamond mining companies never at any point pledged the US$10m apiece and the nation was misled by Honorable Minister Saviour Kasukuwere,” said Wadyajena while presenting the committee’s findings in parliament Tuesday.
“There remains no clear paper trail nor recorded minutes between officials from the diamond mining companies and the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment.”
Wadyajena’s committee also found Kasukuwere being dishonest for failure to even consult his Permanent Secretary who is the accounting officer in his then ministry over the scheme.
“The absence of supporting documents of such a nationally significant transaction calls into question the official nature of the pledges, and lends credence to suspicious claims by both diamond mining firms and the community that the pledges were the singular creation of the former Minister, Honorable Kasukuwere.
The committee further accused Kasukuwere of failure to conduct due diligence in the development of the legal constitution of the M-Z CSOT, failure to bind the mining firms to any written agreements.
“This negatively affected the capitalisation of CSOT,” Wadyajena said.
“Additionally, when the Honorable Minister Saviour Kasukuwere finally appeared before Committee, his submission did not offer any clarity whatever as to the authenticity of the pledges by mining companies.
“Moreover, his appearance before the committee was characterised by a clear intention to obstruct the Committee’s investigations and on one occasion, he made overt threats directed at the Committee chairperson, Honorable Justice Mayor Wadyajena.”
Wadyajena added: “Within the findings of this enquiry revealing clear deception bordering on criminal abuse of office, the Committee calls upon the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor General and all relevant authorities to institute formal proceedings within 14 days (from the day of adoption of this report) to investigate the conduct of Honorable Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, officials from the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment, National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board as well as the diamond mining companies in relation to the M-Z CSOT.
“The Committee further recommends that the President, H.E Cde. RG Mugabe establishes a Commission of Enquiry led by a Judge or any other suitable candidate to investigate the intricate web of deceit, corruption and fraud related to the establishment and implementation of the M-Z CSOT. Further, that particular attention must be paid to a likely covert strategy meant to discredit and malign the Office of the President.”
Kasukuwere has said the dogged determination to have him called to account for his professional transgressions was inspired by factional wars within Zanu PF.
However, Wadyajena has denied any ill intentions against Kasukuwere.
The two belong to opposing factions which are fighting for party control ahead of President Mugabe’s imminent exit from politics.