DEFENCE secretary Martin Rushwaya yesterday claimed the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ diamond mining claims in Chiadzwa were grabbed by police in a “Mafia style” after the government ordered all miners to cease operations.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Rushwaya made the claims when he appeared before the Temba Mliswa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines, where he confirmed that the military had entered into a 50-50 joint mining venture with Chinese company, Anjin, as Treasury was struggling to provide their needs.
He said this was purely a business venture, where civilians were employed and the diamonds mined were lawfully marketed and sold through the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.
Rushwaya said they were shocked one day when former President Robert Mugabe, with a stroke of a pen, ordered all diamond miners in Chiadzwa to cease operations and consolidate their operations.
“It was our view that the [then] Mines minister (Walter Chidakwa) could have acted on improper advice because, definitely, it was a moment of madness because the police just came armed and closed the mine,” he said.
Rushwaya said the company challenged its closure at the Constitutional Court and the matter was still pending.
But, in the case of the takeover of Anjin, the police did not take away any diamond vaults.
Asked if the soldiers just folded their arms as the police forcefully removed them from Anjin, Rushwaya said: “It was a company of civilians, the Chinese and the army, but if it was only the army in Anjin, then it was going to be something else. We follow the legal process.”
Rushwaya then dismissed Mugabe’s claims that $15 billion worth of diamond revenue went missing.
“When the issue of the $15 billion was announced, we said let us come up with a statement to say this is not possible, and who gave Mugabe the figures? If we go by world standards, it is difficult to reach $14 billion diamond output in one year,” he said.
“We said to our colleagues in the Ministry of Mines come up with an explanation but nobody did. Obviously, whoever gave the figure was someone mischievous who had an ulterior motive, maybe to justify consolidation of diamond mines because there was no scientific evidence.”
He said Anjin got $332 674 088,70 as gross revenue from the sale of 9,022 million carats, and, of that amount, $62 813 026 went to government as royalties and commissions.
“The army asked for an advance from our Chinese partners of $54 452 857 because we had to do critical national payments. We helped parastatals with challenges with $5 million, gave $12,4 million to the Zimbabwe National Defence University. When government had failed to pay the initial investment, there were military hardware commitments. We financed Zimbabwe Mining Development Company with $1 million and gave the ZRP [Zimbabwe Republic Police] $330 000,” he said.
Rushwaya also said Anjin used some of its money to buy the Golden Peacock Hotel in Mutare and construct Long Chen Plaza in Harare.
“We have nothing to hide. In fact, we have something to show for our operations,” he said
He claimed the army, through their Anjin joint venture, built 875 houses for villagers displaced by mining activities, a clinic, schools and also tarred a 47km stretch of road from Mutare to the relocation site as part of their corporate social responsibility programmes.