SW Radio Africa (London)

Zimbabwe's Political Elite Implicated in Mining Corruption

A preliminary report on corruption in Zimbabwe's mining sector has implicated senior government officials in fraud, and prompted calls for proper legislation to be introduced.

The report by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TI-Z) has said that the diamond sector is particularly marred by corruption. It says the "absence of a Diamond Act has promoted a free-for-all scenario in diamond trade where the power elites have literally acted in a 'liassez faire' fashion to enrich themselves from diamond mining."

The report states that politicians, military figures, police and others are all involved and implicated in the current corrupt scenario at the Chiadzwa diamond fields. A lack of transparency and accountability has also allowed political influence to decide what diamond mining contracts are awarded and, according to the report, "all the companies that have been given mining rights to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior politicians in government and the military."

The situation is not limited to the diamond sector and the report has found that senior politicians have formed syndicates with police officers and illegal gold panners to engage in organised corruption at Sherwood Block in Kwekwe.

"So entrenched is the corruption that whenever there are impending raids, the gold panners seem to be well-informed of the raids, their timing and how they will be carried out," says the report.

It adds: "This clearly shows that the politicians in cohort with the police as well as the illegal miners are working to deprive the country of gold and attendant revenues which should contribute to the national fiscus."

The TI-Z study recommends the broadening of players involved in the granting of mining rights and mining deals, to ensure transparency and accountability.

"Based on evidence prevailing on the ground, the study found out that all the companies that have been given mining rights to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior politicians in government and the military," the report said about the diamond sector in particular.

The study also recommended that all government officials, including politicians and bureaucrats, should declare their wealth upon taking office.

"Such a measure can be buttressed by a name and shame policy where those public officials who acquire wealth through the abuse of office are named and shamed in public without fear or favour."

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