Govt bars MPs from touring Chiadzwa fields

GOVERNMENT yesterday barred MPs from the Mines and Energy portfolio committee from touring the Chiadzwa diamond fields on a fact-finding mission amid allegations of underhand dealings involving senior officials in both government and Zanu PF.

The 13-member committee was also denied entry at Canadile Mining offices in the eastern border city on the grounds they did not have police clearance.

The lawmakers were yesterday stranded in Mutare after they were denied access to visit Chiadzwa by Chris Mushowe, the governor and resident minister for Manicaland, who declared that it was a “highly” protected zone.

Mushowe reportedly wrote to the police advising them it was not proper for the MPs to visit Chiadzwa on the grounds “they will pick diamonds which are all over the place”.

Despite being cleared to tour the diamond fields on a mission to inspect the operations of companies licensed to mine the precious stones, the MPs were told not to proceed to Chiadzwa.

The committee also wanted to hold public hearings with people from the Chiadzwa community on activities in the diamond-rich area where human rights violations by state security agents are said to be rampant.

Edward Chindori Chininga, committee chairperson, declined to comment saying he was not ready to speak with the media.

Mushowe was also not available for comment at the time of going to press last night as he was not reachable on his mobile phone.

But Moses Mare, MP for Chiredzi West who is a member of the portfolio committee, said by barring them, government was attempting to conceal the goings on at Chiadzwa.

He said they had been given a green light to tour Chiadzwa by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) to observe activities there and to hold public hearings with people from the community.

The ZMDC has entered into controversial joint ventures with Canadile Mining and Mbada Diamonds to extract diamonds from Chiadzwa.

“We have had problems in entering the area,” Mare said. “The governor is refusing us entry saying this is a protected area. He said we will pick up diamonds which are all over. There is something they are trying to hide. If at all there was transparency they would have allowed us to visit. The governor often tours the place, so does that mean he picks up diamonds?”

Mare said his committee was surprised that they did not face any difficulties when they visited other diamond mines –– Murowa Diamonds and River Ranch.

“We are an organ of government and we are the owners of the diamonds fields. They are trying to make this a mafia industry,” Mare said.

He said the committee had previously toured the diamond fields in Chiadzwa without facing any resistance from government.

The committee, the legislator said, will not relent in its efforts to establish the goings on in the diamond rich area where senior government and Zanu PF officials are alleged to be involved in illegal transactions.
There were reports suggesting Chinese nationals were also sighted at the fields mining diamonds. This could not, however, be independently verified.

Kelvin Jakachira

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