CIVIC society organisations have accused government of sleeping on duty while an estimated $15 billion in diamond revenue was being siphoned out of the country, with some calling for the mining of the gems to be temporarily stopped until effective measures are put in place to monitor the situation.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
In his belated birthday interview, President Mugabe revealed a whopping $15 billion from diamond revenue could not be accounted for while laying blame on the mining companies operating in Chiadzwa.
This comes after Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa ordered all the mining companies in Chiadzwa to cease operations while he seeks to bring all mining in the area under one unit.
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)’s economic governance officer Mukasiri Sibanda said the government should look closely at the Auditor General’s report which has unearthed a litany of misdeeds in the diamond sector.
“The highest office in the land recently opined that the nation has been prejudiced of $15 Billion revenue from Marange diamond operations. This comes roughly 6 years after the start of formal diamond extraction in 2010. The $15 billion lost revenue account for 78% of the $19,184 billion gross revenue collections by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority under the same period (2010 to 2015),” Sibanda said.
“A litany of telling findings from Auditor General include ZMDC’S failure to put safeguards to verify the capital contributions from joint venture partners, agreed capital amounts were not honoured by government’s joint venture partner and the right to board representation of state interests in diamond entities was partially exercised.”
Sibanda said it was hard to tell whether some government officials mandated with an oversight role on Marange diamond operations were not the same players with shares in the Marange diamond entities.
He said this might not be far-fetched considering the length and breadth with which the “blind eye and deaf ear” has been given to leakages in Marange.
Sibanda said going forward; the government should adopt strategies such as Extractive Industry Transparency International (EITI) in the management of the diamond sector so as to plug out leaks.
The Centre for Research and Development (CRD) said government should accept blame for the loss and act accordingly.
“It is secondary for government to blame foreign individuals in the alleged $15 billion diamond saga because all mining ventures in Marange were chaired by individuals directly appointed by the ministry of mines and the President,” CRD director James Mupfumi said.
“The assertion by President Mugabe that Zimbabwe could have lost 15 billion must be taken seriously because he was directly involved in diamond operations. Diamond transactions took place right under the President’s nose. It is only prudent that the President leads the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in tracking where the money went.”
Mupfumi said diamond mining should be stopped until mechanisms to ensure transparency are put in place.
“The CRD has been calling for government to cease diamond operations and initiate diamond audits because mining practices were glaringly opaque. The government ignored the call and did absolutely nothing to stop diamond leakages.
“We believe more has been lost than what remains on the ground in Marange. It is only critical that the nation direct more its energy to demand from the chief executive of this country where diamond money is,” he said.
Tax Justice Network – Africa (TJN-A) research and policy advisor Cephas Makunike said the government should look at a report by the former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s report which revealed that Africa is losing $50 billion annually in illicit financial flows.
“Africa is estimated to be losing $50 billion according to the Mbeki report and if you break down the $15 billion for 5 years you would realise that Zimbabwe is contributing quite a large amount to illicit financial flow. The $15 billion is only for Chiadzwa diamonds and more could be channelled out from other sectors,” Makunike said.
“The government has a lot to do and such revelations are just but an eye opener to see the gravity of illicit financial flow in Zimbabwe. They could be coming in many forms but major one comes with agreements signed between the investors and the government.”