The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy has castigated the Mines and Mining Development ministry for barring them from visiting the Chiadzwa diamond fields, yet gladly opening it to foreign observers.
The ministry has twice stopped the portfolio committee from touring Chiadzwa diamond fields, raising questions about the transparency of the goings-on.
Zimbabwe will from today host the Kimberley Process (KP) Review Certification and the African Diamond Producers’ Association observer teams.
KP monitor Abbey Chikane and his delegation are also expected in the country this weekend.
Chiredzi West MP Moses Mare said the move to bar them from touring Chiadzwa was baffling and in violation of their constitutional mandate of overseeing events in the sector.
“The portfolio committee has become irrelevant. Why do we need the justification of outsiders, when there are local bodies that have been set up to do just that?” Mare asked.
Mare said for as long as the committee was not allowed into Chiadzwa, suspicion of illicit dealings in the country’s diamonds would continue.
He said none of the members in the portfolio committee had been invited for the weekend tour.
In a statement issued after the first visit was aborted on March 30, the committee said it was in the “interest of the nation” for it to tour Chiadzwa and table its findings before Parliament.
“It is the committee’s stand that the relevant authorities should uphold the principle of separation of powers and cooperate with Parliament in facilitating the granting of the clearance and allowing the committee to exercise its oversight responsibilities, so that it can compile and table its findings in Parliament without further delay, in the interest of the nation,” said the committee.
Glen View North MP Fani Munengami said the committee was considering meeting soon to look at the issue and come up with the way forward.
Munengami said it was not the committee’s intention to undermine the power of Cabinet ministers but it wanted to carry out its oversight role, as enshrined in the Constitution.
“We should be able to meet this coming Tuesday to discuss the issue,” Munengami said. “Constituencies that we represent are surprised at the latest developments.”
In March this year, the committee questioned Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu, and directors of Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining, the two companies partnering the government in mining the precious stones.