7 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Marange Diamonds Investigations Subverted

INVESTIGATIONS into graft at Marange Resources, a government-owned diamond mining company, are unlikely to yield much as it emerged this week some of the individuals tasked to probe the goings-on at the firm are connected to serving executives, Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Sources close to the developments at Marange said most of the investigations committee members are from the ministry of mines, raising questions about the independence of the investigators in discharging their duties.

It has also emerged that some investigators are conflicted, such as former Hwange Colliery managing director Godfrey Dzinomwa who is a co-director of a company that acting Marange chief executive officer, Mark Mabhudhu, has an interest in.

Sources said Mabhudhu and Dzinomwa are directors of Paasol Resources Mining Consultant -- a company specalising in geology, mining, mineral processing/metallurgy, environmental management, engineering, procurement and construction, feasibility and due diligence studies.

Other directors are Sydney Bvurere, Batirai Manhando, Miracle Muusha, Innocent Gambiza and Innocent Munikwa.

These revelations have also brought to the fore issues relating to Dzinomwa's apparent conflict of interest, and the need for an independent investigator into the affairs of the company currently exploiting diamonds at the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Manicaland province.

Among the investigators are said to be Brains Muchemwa who is an independent economist, Stanford Dumbu and George Mvududu who join a Makumbe, Gomba, Machingura, Mukoko, Sibanda, Mukwekwezeke, a Madhungwe and a Utete from the auditor general's office.

Mabhudhu is a former student of Mines and Mining Development permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga, a former university professor.

When reached for comment last night, Mabhudhu confirmed he was a former student of Gudyanga and had graduated from the University of Zimbabwe in 1992.

Mabhudhu holds a BSc (Hons) Engineering (Metallurgical) degree from the University of Zimbabwe, Master in Business Administration from Buckingharmshire Chilten's University College (UK) and Master of Philosophy in Information & Knowledge Management from the University of Stellenbosch (RSA).

Asked if there could be a case of conflict of interest given the fact that he was a director in a company Dzinomwa is also a co-director Mabhudhu said: "Paasol is a very old establishment. I have no basis to comment on the matter because I don't know the criteria that was used to select an investigator. Yes, I am a director in Paasol."

Efforts to reach Gudyanga proved fruitless at the time of going to press as his mobile phone was unreachable.

Most of the country's diamond revenues have reportedly been unaccounted for through leakages brought about by opacity and sleaze, with individuals benefitting at the expense of the nation.

During his term of office as Finance minister, Tendai Biti called for a transparent policy on the precious stones after realising the sub-sector was not contributing much to the economy. However, his pleas fell on deaf ears as diamond revenues' contribution to the fiscus remained disappointing.

Biti was forced to revise the 2012 National Budget from US$4 billion to US$3, 4 billion after the US$600 million that had been earmarked from diamond proceeds did not reach the government coffers as a result of the opaque nature of operations in Chiadzwa.

Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa is however moving to restore sanity in Marange diamond fields by limiting the number of players, opting for no more than two companies although the plans are still to be implemented.

Marange Resources, Anjin Investments Ltd, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame Resources, Jinan Mining Ltd, Kusena Diamonds and Mbada Diamonds are some of the companies that have operated in the diamond rich fields.

Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa also said that monitoring the seven operations has been difficult and government would soon restructure and consolidate the industry to limit the number of miners.

Diamonds contributed less than US$200 million to the fiscus last year, amidst claims by Global Witness, an independent monitor, that US$2 billion worth of gems had being looted since extraction began in 2006.

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