In a dramatic U-turn, Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Gift Chimanikire has backtracked on his controversial utterances last week telling the United States to “go to hell”.
It has emerged that Prime Minister Tsvangirai chided him over his utterances.
Authoritative sources told NewsDay this week that
“Tsvangirai was unhappy with the statements attributed to the MP”.
“Chimanikire backtracked and went on to issue a rebuttal,” the source said.
“Have you not seen the denial yet?”
Statements by Chimanikire are said to have caused tension between the MDC-T and the US, which is believed to be one of its biggest supporters.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the American Embassy in Harare Andrew Posner, said: “We have no comment for now”.
In his denial statement issued on Tuesday, Chimanikire said, “Statements attributed to me are not true and are an invention to suit spurious agendas which had nothing to do with my mission and agenda.”
He said the Gwanda meeting was undertaken as a prelude to the deputy minister’s visit to small and large-scale mines in Matabeleland South and Bulawayo provinces.
Chimanikire said that one member of the press tried to introduce the issue of diamond mining and human rights violations in Chiadzwa and Marange, pressing him to make certain statements.
His question was: “Is it government policy to change (sic) customers who buy diamonds based on governments’ violation of human rights?” to which I responded: “Frankly I am not going to discuss Maguwu (Farai) in a stakeholders’ meeting”.
Chimanikire was quoted in the media as having said:
“In terms of who we sell our minerals to, America cannot dictate to us the markets . . . if they say our diamonds are bloody, they can keep their money or go to hell.
“Zimbabwe has the right to choose its markets.”