HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsGovt must explain turning blind eye to diamond scam

Govt must explain turning blind eye to diamond scam

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The arrest of six executives from diamond miner Canadile last week vindicates civic society and the general public’s long-held view that an orgy of looting of diamonds has been taking place at Chiadzwa under the watch of the government, which has always claimed to be on top of the situation.

The directors have been languishing in police custody since the middle of last week.

Government has been releasing morsels of information to the effect that $100 million worth of diamonds have been looted from the Chiadzwa claims held by Core Mining who went into partnership with the government through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

The joint venture gave birth to Canadile.

Other than the looting spree which government is now admitting took place, our rulers are also admitting that their partners Core Mining included criminals and smugglers who failed to raise the requisite capital as per agreement.

This is also curious because local civic society and the international community did raise this while questioning the secrecy surrounding the selection of companies to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa.

The reports of looting at Chiadzwa are therefore not surprising at all because there is a wealth of documented evidence from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) monitor Abbey Chikane, who in his report in March concluded that there was inadequate security at the Canadile sorting and valuation centre in Mutare.

The monitor also said representatives of state security agencies on site were not adequately trained or experienced enough to ensure that the manner in which rough diamonds were handled was fully compliant with KPCS’s minimum requirements. Chikane also concluded that there was no visible paper trail to track the movement of rough diamonds from the safe to cubicles.

The monitor concluded that the lax security at the site showed that Canadile Miners “may be encountering financial difficulties. This conclusion, if correct, contradicts the assertion that the company had committed US$100 million to develop its operation in Marange”.

This was in March and eight months later, we hear that the $100 million never materialised.

Centre for Research and Development director Farai Maguwu in his report to Chikane said: “We have gathered enough evidence that security loopholes at Canadile Miners plant in Chiadzwa are costing Zimbabwe about 2 000 carats per day through smuggling of diamonds.”

He said Canadile employees had become the prime sources of illicit diamonds, surpassing illegal panners and security forces in supplying diamonds to local and foreign buyers.

What we find shocking is government’s quest to appear as if they have just unearthed a scam.

All this was happening under the watch of the security arms of government and the Mines ministry.

Of great significance, early in the year when Chikane visited Canadile operations, he made a startling revelation which aptly captures the government’s role in all this.

“When the KP monitor randomly selected an employee, who happens to be an employee of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, for questioning, it became apparent that he had no idea of activities at the sorting and valuation site, despite his role as the representative of a state-owned entity.” It’s called sleeping on the job.

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