21 March 2014

Zimbabwe: Diamond Bosses Face Perjury Rap

OFFICIALS from diamond mining firms in Chiadzwa could be charged for contempt of Parliament after they told a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee that they were unaware of the existence of the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust.

Letters in our possession show that Government wrote to the miners and the then Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu asking the companies to fulfil pledges totalling US$40 million they had made towards the trust, which President Mugabe officially launched in July 2012

The documents show that National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board chair, Lieutenant-General (Retired) Mike Nyambuya wrote to the mining firms on October 31, 2012 asking them to fulfil their pledges.

Each firm pledged US$10 million.

Two letters were also written to Dr Mpofu by the then Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere asking him to ensure the miners met their obligations.

But representatives of the mining firms two weeks ago told Parliament they knew nothing of the trust, while some diamond miners said they had only pledged US$1,5 million.

And yesterday two of the miners again denied knowledge of the letters, while others could not be reached for comment.

Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin Investments, Jinan and Diamond Mining Company denied knowledge of the Trust when they appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Cde Justice Mayor Wadyajena.

Acting Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda said Parliament's Empowerment Committee could recommend to the House if it felt there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the officials had lied under oath.

"The House would then constitutes a committee if it feels that a possible breach existed," he said.

"It is that committee that would make enquiries and make a determination, including appropriate penalties and recommend to the House for adoption," he said.

Dr Mpofu yesterday said he did not know of any communication from Minister Kasukuwere on the matter.

"I am not aware of that letter," he said before switching off his phone.

On September 20, 2012, Minister Kasukuwere wrote to Dr Mpofu reminding him of the pledges.

"Would you please facilitate payments by the qualifying businesses into the bank account of the Marange-Zimunya Community Ownership Trust so that it becomes operational and begins to implement priority projects in their community," wrote Minister Kasukuwere.

Click here to read what the Law says

On February 7, 2013 Minister Kasukuwere reminded Dr Mpofu about the matter in a letter in which he also implored him to ensure Metallon Gold Zimbabwe and Vumbachikwe Mining Company complied with the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

"I would also appreciate if you would facilitate the payment of seed capital into the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust by the relevant diamond mining companies," he wrote.

And on October 31, 2013 Rtd Lt-Gen Nyambuya wrote to the diamond miners.

"We refer to the above matter and particularly to your pledge to donate an amount of US$10 million as seed capital to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust," he said. "We note that it has been a couple of months since the community Trust was launched by his Excellency the President of Zimbabwe and your company is yet to make payments of this amount to the trust.

"The success of the Marange-Zimunya Trust hinges on the availability of pledged funds. Without these funds, the Trust will be unable to fulfil the promises made at the launch and this will reflect badly on His Excellency who launched the Trust with the promise of the seed capital to the people of Marange and Zimunya areas.

"We would also like to think that this will also reflect negatively on your image and activities."

He added: "We, therefore, kindly request the deposit of the pledged amounts to the community Trust account as a sign of commitment to your word and in order to ensure that the Trust may begin in earnest to undertake its much awaited activities.

"We hope that this will be done soonest and in any event not latter than mid-November. The Ministry is anxious to see the Trust receive the money. Should you have any questions relating to the above please do not hesitate to contact the compliance department."

However, Marange Resources acting chief executive Mr Mark Mabhudhu said they did not have any such correspondences.

"I have searched for correspondences and I have not seen anything," he said. "Our position is that we will afford US$2 million as US$10 million was going to be a big figure for us."

Diamond Mining Company chairperson Rtd Brigadier-Gen Ezekiel Zabanyana said: "I made all the efforts to ask our management and they said no communication had been given to them."

Last week, Minister Kasukuwere accused diamond miners of dishonesty.

On Wednesday, villagers, chiefs and trustees demanded that all diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa honour the pledges they made when President Mugabe launched the trust last year.

They said their actions should not go unpunished.

Out of the US$50 million the firms pledged in the presence of President Mugabe last year, Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources remitted US$400 000 to the trust's account.

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