The Marange diamond fields have once again been plunged into chaos in the aftermath of the sudden removal of Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) acting chief executive officer Ridge Nyashanu and the deterioration of security in the area.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Insiders said illegal panners chased out of the area around 2004 amid claims of extra-judicial killings by State security personnel had returned as ZCDC continues to fail to stamp its authority.
“The workforce is demotivated, production levels very low. Nyashanu brought back personnel who were once fired for incompetence. The security situation has deteriorated to record levels. It’s shocking that government has been projecting a situation that everything is well.
“On the ground, it’s something else. There is rampant looting of diamonds. Some from the security department who were brought back have contributed to the free-for-all in an area that had become difficult for illegal miners,” a source at Chiadzwa said.
Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidakwa confirmed all was not well.
“We had a delegation led by the permanent secretary (Francis Gudyanga) visiting the area, but I am still to get a report from them following their return last night (Wednesday). I can only give a comprehensive report after getting a proper briefing from him,” he said.
Quizzed on whether the visit was routine or had been triggered by security concerns, Chidakwa said: “Yes, there are concerns around the security situation. But, like I said, I do not have the finer details. I have to get a report first.”
Government chased out private companies that were engaged in the extraction of the precious stone and formed ZCDC, but production has since plummeted while the chaotic situation has left officials awestruck.
“ZCDC fired Nyashanu following a dramatic plunge in production and revenue. The board unanimously fired Nyashanu on Wednesday (last week) after internal reports showed that he was responsible for the rot,” NewsDay heard.
The sources added that Nyashanu had support from top officials in the Mines ministry.
Gudyanga visited Marange along with acting chief executive officer Morris Mpofu “and they were shocked at the situation”.
Nyashanu was reportedly controversially appointed leading to a clash between Chidakwa and Gudyanga, on one hand, and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation board, on the other, over the appointment.
President Robert Mugabe last year claimed at least $15 billion in diamond revenue disappeared from Marange prior to ZCDC taking over. But insiders have also indicated that Mugabe’s move to kick out companies linked to the country’s military and the Chinese might backfire.