CIVIL society organisations have blasted President Robert Mugabe for granting exploration licenses to private mining companies in spite of poor monitoring mechanisms that have resulted in some companies allegedly plundering the country’s vast minerals resources.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/CLAYTON MASEKESA
Mines minister, Walter Chidhakwa last month announced that 11 private companies have been granted 12 exploring licenses including four special grants in Masvingo, Bulawayo, Gweru and Kadoma.
But civic society leaders told journalists in Mutare recently that instead, the government must capacitate the Mining Promotion and Development Unit and the Geological Survey Unit to take up the exploration function.
Addressing journalists in Mutare last week, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) acting director James Mupfumi claimed three quarters of diamond revenue is lining the pockets of unscrupulous foreign investors and a few local individuals.
“We are very concerned that President Mugabe has granted 12 mining exploring licenses including four exclusive prospecting orders to private companies amid poor monitoring mechanism by the government,” said Mupfumi. “This has seen the mining companies repeatedly plunder the minerals for years under the disguise of carrying out mining explorations.”
He added: “Failure by government to disclose beneficial ownership in the mining sector whilst conspiring with mining companies to either deny or divert proceeds of community ownership schemes is proof that the indigenisation laws were crafted to benefit political elites at the expense of the economy.”
Mupfumi said it was advantageous for government to capacitate its own exploration entities so that it would be in a position to negotiate mining contracts from an informed point of view.
“The government will be in a better position to negotiate for contracts. Look at the Chiadzwa issue where the companies who were exploring are now the same ones saying diamonds are running out,” said Mupfumi. “De Beers was left to explore without monitoring mechanisms and as a result they ended up mining when the government thought it was still exploring. We were only left to count loses because we will be relying on speculative information.”
Government in 2012 accused De Beers, which started exploration in Zimbabwe in 1993, but left 13 years later, of plundering the country’s diamonds during its exploration activities.
Mupfumi called for the immediate cessation of all mining operations in Marange to allow independent and comprehensive auditing of all diamond mining companies.
“We demand for this audit to be carried out and it must be made public. We know that the potential of diamonds in Marange to accrue the much needed revenue that could resuscitate the ailing Zimbabwe economy and uplift the living standards of vulnerable communities has been stifled by calculated practices by responsible authorities in government,” said Mupfumi.
Companies mining in Marange include Jinan, Diamond Mining Company, Marange Resources Anjin and Mbada Diamonds.
Zimbabwe Natural Resource Dialogue Forum (ZNRDF) director, Freeman Bhoso said civil society was appalled that the government, for the past six years, had parcelled a strategic natural resource to individuals and fly-by-night investors.
“As civic society groups we are perplexed by the failure on the part of the government, who are perceived to be majority shareholders in these mining ventures, to take decisive action and end the haemorrhage in Marange diamond field,” Bhoso said.
Bhoso the said the government should instead capacitate the Mining Promotion Corporation and the Geological Survey Unit.
“Civil society in Manicaland demands that government immediately capacitate and operationalise the mining promotion corporation and the geological survey unit to effectively execute their mandate and ascertain the diversity and value of our mineral resource.
“We also encourage strategic public/private partnerships in mining explorations where government lacks expertise,” said Bhoso.