via MPs roast minister over diamonds cash – NewZimbabwe 22/10/2015
ZIMBABWE’S diamonds once again took centre stage in the national assembly this week with Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhkwa being hauled over the coals by MPs who demanded answers as to “where the money is going”.
Independent reports have claimed massive corruption and theft of the country’s precious gems by those connected to President Robert Mugabe’s establishment. Other reports have claimed billions have been siphoned way for personal aggrandizement by political elites.
MDC-T Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele first asked Chidhakwa to explain government policy regarding the extractive sector and in particular the contentious diamond industry.
Another opposition MP, Ruth Labode, then asked why Zimbabwe, with more diamonds than Botswana and a reported 25% or global gems, is struggling with funding economic revival when the country’s western neighbour rakes in $8.4 billion annually “and we get less than $100 million”.
Chidhakwa then got into a monologue about minerals being under the soil and the need for government to explore before issuing licenses to mining companies.
“We were able to establish the presence of a mineral in Marange and we took a decision or made decisions to allocate concessions to a number of companies in partnership with ZMDC (Zimbabwe Mining and Development Company).
“Now, the country is estimated, depending on the figures that you are looking at, to have between 105 and 159 kimberlites. These are pedantic until and unless you spend time exploring each and every one of those kimberlite, because not all,” he said.
But he was cut short by Mabvuku-Tafara lawmaker James Maridadi who dismissed Chidhakwa’s “lecture”.
“The question is where is the diamond money, given that Zimbabwe owns 25% of the world’s diamonds? That is simple. Where is the money Minister?
“That is what we want to know. If you want to give a lecture, can you please prepare a ministerial statement” he said.
To this the mines minister claimed “The truth of the matter is that we are mining diamonds right now and the money is going into government depending on how much it is…” he said accusing Maridadi of being emotional.
The minister’s voice was however drowned by MPs who began to shout; “Where is the money, where, where?”
Maridadi would have none of it.
“The Auditor General’s report from last year indicated that Government did not receive a dime from the diamond companies last year. The Minister comes here and says money is getting into Government, which Government is he talking about?
“If it is the Government of Zimbabwe, it is not true, there is no money coming,” the former disc-jokey said.
An exasperated Chidhakwa then tried to explain that according to the Finance Act money going into government coffers through royalties “2% depletion fee and 0.85% going into MMCZ (Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe)”.
“This money has been going to government. The question is, how much as a percentage?
“That is the question but the fact of the money going to Government through royalties is unquestionable and not debatable,” said Chidhakwa.