MINES minister Walter Chidhakwa has disclosed that teams of auditors tasked to trace the whereabouts of government’s missing $15 billion diamond proceeds are finding it difficult to get relevant information to facilitate the investigations.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Chidakwa made the disclosure recently in Senate, while responding to a question from Midlands Senator Lillian Timveous, who wanted to know if the government had managed to account for the money, since President Robert Mugabe went public over the issue.
“There have been three teams (of auditors) from three companies that we appointed and, as a result, they have been working and the last report that we got was that they were having difficulties with accessing information,” he said.
“The contracted companies would not have unfettered access to information that was required because the companies, which they wanted to do forensic audits on were in fact before the courts,” he said.
Chidakwa said the government engaged private audit firms to conduct the investigations after Auditor-General Mildred Chiri’s Office recused itself, citing lack of resources.
“We restarted the activity for some of the companies once the court cases had been decided upon and we realised that issues of information still remained a problem. We have now opted for the use of technology to access information and be able to establish exactly how much was moved from the ground, and from there we will work out how many diamonds were lost in the process,” he said.
Chidakwa said the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) now needs to acquire new equipment to extract conglomerate diamonds, since the alluvial ones are now finished.
“This House needs to know that there are not many alluvial diamonds now in Marange, but there are many conglomerate diamonds. In conglomerates, you need crushers. So, we had to re-engineer the entire technology in Marange in order to suit the new type of mining and the new type of ore that we were dealing with.”
The Mines minister said they now have close to 65% of all the equipment required to mine conglomerates.
“We have accumulated 1,3 million carats over the last few months. We are already higher than last year, when most of the court cases were there. We just have not been selling. We have been mining and cleaning. The reason we have not been selling is because our systems for evaluation had been compromised. We have had to ask the Tswanas to come and they are coming in next week to assist us with the valuation of those diamonds and after that, we will now have a new system.”