HomeLocal NewsArmy, cops clash over diamonds

Army, cops clash over diamonds

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A war of words has erupted between senior managers, comprising mainly members of Zimbabwe’s uniformed forces, at Anjin Investments, a Chinese firm extracting diamonds in Chiadzwa, apparently over control of the gems amid revelations there is massive looting of the precious stones from the area on a daily basis, NewsDay can reveal.

The battle for control of Anjin, between the retired military old guard and serving members, has manifested itself in the form of acrimonious communications between them revealing that “thousands of carats of diamonds” have been looted from the other diamond firms, Mbada and Canadile.

The latest clash is between Anjin deputy general manager (DGM) Retired Brigadier General Ben Mabhenge and the company’s security manager Police Assistant Commissioner Douglas Marekera.
Mabhenge is angry over Marekera’s alleged insubordination and reminds the latter that:

“Our presence at Anjin (should) cease to be a bossing contest.

The dynamics of a revolutionary process dictate that the revolutionary tree sheds dry leaves, discards them, for the sake of (the) trunk.

This is where we are.”

The letter, written on September 17, is scathing, but the retired soldier said he had “diluted the severity with which I had originally intended to address you”.

Marekera has allegedly kept vital information about the goings-on at the mine from Mabhenge.

The information includes tampering with security fences, illegal panners’ incursions “the shooting incident at Jesi”, community reservations and opinions and issues to do with preparations for inspection delegations.

Mabhenge claimed Marekera withheld information since he took office “at 89 Kingsmead” Borrowdale, four months ago.

Mabhenge fumed: “Who would dare say that it is reasonable for a manager, responsible manager, to withhold information relevant to the refinement of the looting that bombarded the visitors’ conscience?

Yet reports relevant to that state of abomination had been denied the DGM, and therefore, the GM general manager.”

Insiders at Anjin said the tiff between the uniformed forces stemmed from animosity pitting “a professional and experienced revolutionary leader, Mabhenge, who has the backing of fellow liberation war old guard, including powerful generals, against the younger generation who felt it was their turn to benefit from the gems”.

Mabhenge admits the secondment of security personnel to Anjin was to provide for “broader latitude for debriefing at some other forum detached from corporate corridors” but said he doubted whether “those other forum” would agree with Marekera’s behaviour.

“But whether those other forum would rather reinforce or dispense your liability to the authority attached to my office remains a question for the revolutionary,” he said.

“We are here not because we are the best.

We are here because of the present state of the revolution.

It is that state of the revolution which compelled our brothers and sisters to send us here.

It is the revolution threatened with extinction, faced with this constant danger of being thrust into reverse gear, which made us qualify to be here.

“It is only the revolutionary who is called upon to defend the revolution.

We are here because the fraternity of brotherhood thinks we are revolutionary in every way.

But they are also aware, as much as I am aware, that when the revolution has developed, and the situation is ripe, cowards easily become heroes!”

The general manager accused Marekera of “irresponsibility of the highest order” in that:

“It is incomprehensible how, in the last three days, you could have chosen to spend your time at Leopard Rock Motel, three days and three nights, while our neighbours (Canadile and Mbada diamond mines) were being looted of thousands of carats in diamonds.”

Whatever looting that took place at the two diamond mines three days before he wrote the scathing letter, Mabhenge said it was an opportunity for Marekera “to untangle the mysteries surrounding the demise of our neighbours in order to draw lessons to the benefit of Anjin”.

“All the more important when you consider the serious presence of the AFECC Vice President on the compound during this scary time, you will find the vestiges of how your DGM went tumbling, dispirited; yielding to deep shadows of the severest disappointment . . . Objectively, you should have been the first person to show your concern, to alert all of us, to coach your security personnel with precision and immediacy.”

The nine-page letter also mentions issues of “damage to graves and other places of value”.

“The net effect of this systematic, consistently systematic pattern has been to ring-fence the DGM’s office by slow information starvation,” Mabhenge wrote.

“Who can withstand the vagaries associated with this megrim (impetuous) mentality?”

NewsDay traced Anjin to the leafy Borrowdale suburb in Harare – a heavily fortified property behind intimidating pink, high walls whose entrance is manned by mean-looking security guards who told the news team entry was strictly by appointment.

After lengthy negotiations, one of the guards took our identity papers to Marekera whom he said was the only official present at the time.

He was away for close to half an hour and when he reappeared, he was livid.

“Who gave you these names (Mabhenge and Marekera)?” the guard ranted.

“I want to know how you got to know the names.

If you didn’t know, Marekera is a boss in the police force and, instead of an interview, he said he will call the police to arrest you if you remain here a minute longer.

He said you should get away from here immediately.

“What you news people used to do before the inclusive government, drawing people in your papers, is no longer allowed.

You don’t just interview a person without his permission. Go away now.”

The news crew then asked for Marekera mobile number and the guard replied: “I said get away from here now.

What do you want his number for?

He said he does not want to speak to you.

Now get away before you get into trouble.”

Spokesperson for the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), Lieutenant Colonel Overson Mugwisi, said he was unaware of military activity at the diamond fields.

“We are not, at army headquarters, aware of such operations.

Not in the ZNA.

I would have been aware, but perhaps the ZDF (Zimbabwe Defence Forces) HQ may be able to assist you.

They may be in the picture.

The army does not control the activities of retired members,” Mugwisi said.

Efforts to obtain comment from the ZDF and the police were fruitless as officials who took calls said they were unaware of the developments at Anjin nor did they have contact numbers for either Mabhenge or Marekera.

When NewsDay finally contacted Marekera on his mobile phone last Tuesday, he declined to comment and advised this newspaper to send a copy of the letter to Brigadier General Sango at Defence House.

A copy of the letter was sent to Sango’s office at Defence House last Wednesday where it was received by Warrant Officer II J Manditsera.

Marekera had promised to respond by Friday but when contacted that day, he backtracked and said he was no longer going to respond to the letter.

“You are now making things difficult for me,” Marekera said.

“The people to whom you sent the letter are dealing with it.

They are the people that are going to contact you about that letter.”

Numerous efforts over the past two weeks to obtain comment from Mabhenge were fruitless.

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