27 June 2013

Zimbabwe: Chindori-Chininga Family Insist Fatal 'Accident' Was Murder

The family of the late ZANU PF official Edward Chindori-Chininga, who died in a car accident last week, has insisted that his death was deliberate.

The Guruve South MP was buried at his Mudhindo homestead this week, amid ongoing speculation that the fatal crash he was involved in was no accident. More fuel was added to the fire during the burial ceremony, when his relatives said the MP had been killed.

"Politics kills, you are killed by a stupid person," Chindori-Chininga's nephew John Chanetsa said, adding that his death was celebrated by political rivals in ZANU PF.

"After I heard about the death, I ran around and realised people were celebrating the death. You killed him to pave way for yourself," Chanetsa said.

Chindori-Chininga's death followed the release of a damning parliamentary committee report about Zimbabwe's diamond sector, with details about the involvement of ZANU PF officials and allies in the industry. That report has exposed the level of corruption evident at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where millions of dollars in profits, meant to be earned by the national Treasury, are unaccounted for.

Chindori-Chininga was the chairman of the committee that authored the report, but even before the report was released he was known as a man who tried to shine a light on the murky practices at the diamond fields. Alan Martin from Partnership Africa Canada, who communicated extensively with Chindori-Chininga, said last week that the ZANU PF MP knew he was a "marked man" and that his work as chairman of the parliamentary committee on mines and energy had ended his political career in the party.

The report lends credence to the concerns raised for years by human rights groups about the goings-on at the diamond fields. Its findings back up previous reports by groups like Partnership Africa Canada and Human Rights Watch, which have accused ZANU PF of controlling the diamond trade and illicitly using the trade profits to run a 'parallel government'.

In its report, the parliamentary committee said it had observed with concern that the government had not received any meaningful contribution from diamonds because there are "serious discrepancies between what it receives and what the diamond-mining companies claim to have remitted to Treasury".

The report quoted the Mbada Diamonds mining firm as saying it had paid $293 million to the government since it started mining in 2009, including $117 million between 2011 and 2012. This is in stark contrast to figures released by Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who said the government had received only $41 million in diamond revenue last year.

The report also questioned the serious lack of transparency in the diamond sector, pointing a finger at Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, who they said had secretly chosen various investors with a clear conflict of interests.

Other revelations include the ongoing presence of the military which, according to the report, still controls much of the diamond fields. This is despite the insistence of the Mines Ministry that the military has no role to play, after concerns were raised that there were military-led abuses at the diamond fields.

Farai Maguwu, the Director of the Centre for Resource Governance, said the lack of transparency seen in the diamond sector is the major challenge in trying to resolve the issues there. He said the problem is a political one, and a lack of political will was a key failure in turning the diamond sector into an honest trade.

"The problem also goes beyond just corrupt politicians. Unfortunately Zimbabwe is operating in a corrupt international system that is taking advantage of situations like in Zimbabwe," Maguwu said.

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