By Staff Reporter
Harare, March 02, 2016 – THE MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube has challenged the current government to account for revenues generated from lucrative diamond mining activities in Chiadzwa since 2009 before Zimbabweans can buy into its current decision to boot out mining firms in the area.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa two weeks ago ordered the six mining firms which include those run by the military and the Chinese to halt operations and vacate the area.
He granted them three months to remove their equipment to make way for fresh mining operations under the so-called Zimbabwe Consolidated Mining Company.
The move has been met with mixed feelings among Zimbabweans who feel the country has never benefitted from the opaque management of one of the world’s richest diamond deposits with some quick to allege government breach of business agreements.
But the MDC has demanded answers from the Robert Mugabe led government on what really transpired leading to the closure of the firms.
“As the MDC family we bemoan the abrupt closure of diamond mines in the absence of a valid explanation and an audit report that explains in detail the quantities and amounts raised from the private sale of the country’s germs,” said party spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi in a statement on Tuesday.
“We are challenging the minister of Mines Walter Chidhakwa and President Robert Mugabe to come clear on the closure of diamond mines in Marange by publishing comprehensive figures to prove innocence and transparency.
“It is illogical for a government to close down mines and throw people into the streets without a convincing explanation.”
Former finance minister Tendai Biti said during his tenure that the government was not receiving anything from the lucrative diamond mining in Chiadzwa to prop up a struggling economy.
When the gems were discovered in 2006, government moved in to dislodge thousands of Zimbabweans who had invaded the area to pan for the precious mineral.
The introduction of formal mining operations then was hailed as the greatest thing to happen to a struggling economy with then mines minister Obert Mpofu declaring the country’s economic woes would now be a thing of the past.
But that was not to be as government kept the operations very secret amid allegations from some quarters the Zanu PF led government was building a war chest out of diamond proceeds in the event of its losing power through elections.
Said the MDC: “The MDC is raising the red flag to draw public attention to the evil and inadequate reasons given by government officers around the closure of diamond mines in Zimbabwe.
“We are very much disturbed by the lack of transparency and accountability in the administration of natural resources by the Zanu PF government which has a bad tendency of prevaricating when caught engaging in criminal activities.
“…Our concern as the MDC is the abuse of revenue generated from the germs and gross lack of transparency and accountability in the mining and selling of Marange diamonds.
“The Zanu PF administration is channelling resources towards its ugly internal political fights leaving the majority roasted on fire and the country’s civil service wailing for 2015 bonuses.”
Challenged in parliament, current Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has repeatedly failed to state the exact amount of diamonds extracted through mining activities in Chiadzwa since 2009.