MANICALAND Provincial Affairs minister Mandi Chimene last week stunned diamond mining firm executives in Chiadzwa after demanding that they should only employ bona fide Zanu PF members.
Chimene said the order was with immediate effect, on the grounds that opposition political party supporters should not be allowed anywhere near the mining area as they were a “high security threat”.
However, the mining firms said they would resist the directive.
Addressing different mining company executives at her Mutare offices last Friday, Chimene said: “I want to remind those mining firms at Chiadzwa that they should mind their language and politics.
They should know that the diamonds are mined in Zimbabwe. This is Zimbabwe led by His Excellency Cde Robert Mugabe, who is the first secretary of the ruling party Zanu PF.”
She added: “I have been informed that there are some people wearing MDC-T T-shirts working in your fields. That should stop. But, if I see workers wearing Zanu PF T-shirts, then I have no problem with that.”
The combative Zanu PF minister threatened to “expose” some diamond firms which she claimed were smuggling the precious mineral out of Zimbabwe, thereby shortchanging the province and government.
She said although Manicaland had one of the world’s largest diamond deposits, the province had not yet directly benefited from the mineral resource due to alleged underhand dealings by mining companies.
“Money from diamonds is being taken elsewhere, leaving the province to languish in poverty. What is surprising is the fact that
the companies are continuously mining the diamonds at Chiadzwa and yet we are the poorest province,” she said.
Several executives interviewed by NewsDay after the meeting described Chimene’s directive as “absurd” and meant to entrench partisan politics at workplaces.
“How can we be expected to ask for someone’s political affiliation before offering them a job? How does she expect us to deal with MDC-T members already under our employ? The directive is absurd and is inapplicable,” an executive, who declined to be named, said.
The meeting was attended by representatives from Mbada Diamonds, Marange Resources, Anjin, Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan, Rera, Metallon Gold and DTZ-Ozgeo, among others. Since her appointment as Provincial Affairs minister last month, Chimene has already caused a stir in the province where she has declared war against MDC-T members and the opposition-led Mutare City Council.
Chimene last week threatened to set up a parallel structure involving war veterans to run the MDC-T-led Mutare City Council accusing the main opposition party of running down the local authority.
Zanu PF and the MDCs have always clashed over the recruitment of civil servants and local authority personnel along partisan lines since the era of the inclusive government.