By Mlondolozi Ndlovu and Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Harare, March 17, 2016 – FORMER Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) says the current probe on the plunder of diamond revenue from Chiadzwa should not skirt President Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace.
Mugabe said in his birthday interview last month that up to $15 billion worth of diamond revenue could have been spirited away through opaque deals between contracted private firms and outsiders in the past six years.
He said less than $2 billion from the lucrative ventures has found its way into Treasury.
Mugabe’s comments elicited strong rebuke from the country’s opposition which has demanded his resignation for failing to protect the country’s mineral wealth.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa told parliament on Wednesday the state has opened a probe into the goings on in Chiadzwa, which led to the siphoning of potential revenue.
But in a statement of Thursday, party national organising secretary Solomon Madzore said the probe can only make logic if it also targeted the first family which he accused of using diamond revenue to finance the first lady’s countrywide rallies.
“The recent rallies by Mugabe’s second wife have also had the same features (vote buying through diamond) thus betraying that someone looting our resources is giving rent to the first family and Zanu PF. This is unacceptable,” the PDP said.
The opposition party also accused Zanu PF of financing its 2013 election campaign through diamond revenue.
“The 2013 election was characterised by breath taking patronage and large scale vote buying which were certainly paid for by diamond money,” Madzore said.
The former MDC-T legislator said the recent diamond pillage claims by Mugabe vindicated Biti, who during his tenure made repeated complaints the country was receiving nothing from diamonds.
“The revelations by Robert Mugabe that Zimbabwe lost a whopping US$15 billion worth of diamonds from Chiadzwa in the seven or so years of operations confirm what then Minister of Finance and current President of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said on several occasions, that Chiadzwa was being looted,” he said.
“Mugabe is thus the godfather of corruption and his mild admission that diamonds were heavily looted is just a tip of the iceberg. As the PDP, we argue that more than just diamonds have been looted in the country’s extractive sector,” he said.
Biti’s party also slammed the secrecy around mining contracts in Chiadzwa which saw government withhold all the information to do with the exploitation of the public resource.
“To this day, no one knows what other minerals have been looted in areas such as platinum mining in Ngezi and Zvishavane.
“If investigations can be done, we will certainly get shocked at the level to which our minerals have been looted by private companies with the full blessings of Mugabe himself.