Parly, cabinet head for clash over diamond probe

THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy is pressing ahead with its investigations into the controversial diamond mining activities by Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners at Chiadzwa in Marange district, Manicaland.

The probe by the 13-member committee is likely to trigger a confrontation between parliament and the executive which is spiritedly resisting MPs’ oversight inquiry. The committee is trying to establish how Mbada and Canadile got their licences and mining rights to extract diamonds at Chiadzwa.

Mbada is a joint venture between the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)’s subsidiary, Marange Resources (Pvt) Ltd, and South Africa’s New Reclamation Group (Reclam) (Pty) Ltd’s Mauritian-registered subsidiary, Grandwell Holdings. Mbada is chaired by retired Air Force of Zimbabwe Air Vice-Marshal Robert Mhlanga.

Canadile is a joint venture between Marange Resources and South Africa’s Core Mining and Minerals (Pvt) Ltd. Canadile is also chaired by a retired soldier, Lovemore Kurotwi.

Investigations show that the two companies were imposed on ZMDC by Mines minister Obert Mpofu  (pictured) and his superiors at the highest levels of government.

Information obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent shows that President Robert Mugabe on February 16 complained in cabinet the committee was overstepping its mandate and suggested it needed to be stopped.

After that a parliamentary caucus of Zanu PF MPs met on March 1 and decided that the committee should be stopped in its tracks.

In a bid to stem the intensifying investigation, cabinet on Tuesday endorsed Mbada and Canadile’s disputed mining claims and extraction of the gems at the controversial diamond fields.

Mpofu said on Tuesday cabinet had unanimously endorsed Mbada and Canadile despite a growing storm over their mining licences and activities. “Cabinet has endorsed Mbada and Canadile joint venture partnerships in Chiadzwa and has agreed that the joint venture partnerships are legitimately structured,” he said.

Mpofu on Tuesday presented to cabinet an inter-ministerial taskforce report on the implementation of the Kimberley Process

Certification Scheme (KPCS). The report, he said, was also adopted unanimously. The taskforce comprised ministers Emmerson Mnangagwa, Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube, Elton Mangoma and Mpofu.

Zimbabwe has been given a task to fulfil the KPCS before it could sell its hotly contested diamonds.

Despite efforts to block the parliamentary committee from conducting further investigations, MPs have been vigorously pushing ahead. Mpofu appeared before the committee on Tuesday in camera and sources said he indicated that Mbada and Canadile got their licences after they were approved by “government”.

The sources said he suggested the decision came from “the top”. Those who have also appeared before the committee include ZMDC and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe officials.

Mbada and Canadile officials have been resisting demands from the MPs for them to appear before the committee, claiming the issue was sub judice.

However, they have been threatened with indictment by MPs if they defied the committee. Mbada and Canadile officials have been given a Monday deadline to come or face the wrath of parliament.

 

Dumisani Muleya

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