Thursday, 8 September 2016

Chinamasa attributed $15 b looted diamonds to "mispricing" and now it is "low output".

Zimbabwe is facing serious economic meltdown and yet the country continues to lose billions of dollars through mismanagement and corruption, notably of diamond revenue. The Zanu PF regime has promised to end the looting of diamonds and still the rot continues!

Throughout his tenure as Minister of Finance 2009 to 2013, Tendai Biti, complained that the nations was losing millions of dollars in unpaid tax revenue from the diamond mining operations in Marange and Chiadzwa. Ever since the discovery of diamonds in this area in 2006 chaos and intrigue have been the order of the day. First it was free for all with hundreds of men, women and children siftings through the spoil of an open pit several metres deep without a thought on their safety. A scene reminiscent of the gold mining in Zorro Movies!

The Police and Army moved and forcefully removed all small scale operators but not to restore order but to secure the mining concessions for the ruling elite. Expert foreign know-how in mining alluvial diamonds was brought in on the back of carefully selected local partners. The partners kept no official records of the quantity, quality and therefore true value of their bounty, so they shared the proceed without paying any tax; which is what aggrieved Minister Biti.

All attempts by individuals, NGOs and the GNU parliament to get the blanket of secrecy that has always covered the diamond mining industry in Marange and Chiadzwa have all come to naught. It is therefore not surprising that corruption is this sector has become rampant. In 2012 Partnership Africa Canada reported that President Mugabe pocketed a cool $2 billion from his share of the looting and plunders of Marange diamonds. He has gone on to use some of the money to finance his elaborate and expensive vote rigging scheme the following year.

President Mugabe has himself confirmed just how serious the looting in Marange has become when he acknowledge that $15 billion in diamond revenue in the six year period 2010 to 2015 could not be accounted for. Minister Kasukuwere has since said a large “chunk” of the $15 billion was looted by Mai Mujuru and her late husband.

President Mugabe admitted to the looting of $15 billion in diamond revenue in March 2016 and up to date, six months later, not even one single person has been arrested and charged for the theft. The country’s health and education systems are in a real mess as a result of decades of poor funding and yet billions are being wasted and, worse still, the regime continues to do nothing about it!

Indeed, instead of tackling the rampant corruption with the seriousness and urgency the matter demands the regime is even covering up. A few months ago Minister Patrick Chinamasa was denying the $15 billion was not looted it was a bookkeeping error arising from “mispricing”! Today he is telling another tale!

"Cumulative diamond output for the first six months of the year to June 2016 stood at 972 765 carats , with most firms losing production time during the month of February when Government moved in at Chiadzwa to consolidate the diamond sector," Chinamasa told legislators during his mid-term fiscal policy review statement  in parliament today.

"The relatively low output levels, against a target of 6 million carats, is attributed to the lack of adequate capital on the part of operating companies under ZCDC as well as reluctance by previous companies to merge into the newly formed company.

"Furthermore, the country is losing out on lost diamond production from the three concessions which are not yet operational.”

Is Minister Chinamasa 100% sure of this? In layman language; the looting in Marange and Chiadzwa is continuing unabated!  

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