PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reportedly mulling a major shake-up of the board of trustees of the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) after kicking out former Home Affairs minister and Zanu PF politburo heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa.
Report by Tendai Marima
DTZ was established in 1989 by veteran nationalist, the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo and Mugabe, and has diverse business interests, the latest being commercial diamond mining.
Dabengwa, who served on the boards of the American and British-registered corporation and its subsidiary gold and diamond mining firm DTZ-Ozgeo, was replaced earlier this year without explanation.
DTZ-Ozgeo is set to become Zimbabwe’s newest commercial diamond miner after recently announcing its readiness to enter the market by the end of the year.
DTZ-Ozgeo is presently mining diamonds at Charleswood Estate, which was expropriated from exiled MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett. The company has produced 7 000 carats since 2007. The company’s tax returns dated May 10 2012 seen by the Zimbabwe Independent show Dabengwa was removed as a director on May 2 and replaced by Nkomo’s daughter, Thandiwe Barbara Nkomo.
In an interview this week, Dabengwa confirmed being informed of the termination of his DTZ-Ozgeo directorship in a letter from DTZ chairperson, Vice-President John Nkomo.
“I’m not on the board of DTZ-Ozgeo anymore, but I was not informed if I was still on DTZ,” said Dabengwa. “I don’t even know if I am there; I heard through the grapevine I had been dropped from the board of DTZ-Ozgeo, but I was never consulted. I was first told by one of the directors (of DTZ-Ozgeo) and then I received a letter from John Nkomo saying I had been substituted. He didn’t give a reason.”
DTZ-Ozgeo is a 60/40 partnership between DTZ, Russian government company Ozgeo, also known as the All Russian Foreign Economic Association on Geological Prospecting.
The Penhahlonga-based mining company was incorporated on January 27, 1994 and Mikhail Ivanovitch Nikulshin, head of Russia’s foreign state enterprise, and Dabengwa were appointed as its founding directors on the same day.
Dabengwa was one of the first trustees appointed by Mugabe when DTZ was set up on June 12, 1989. It is understood the current board consists of Environment and Natural Resources Management minister Francis Nhema, who was married to Joshua Nkomo’s daughter, Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, State Security minister Sidney Sekeramayi, ex-Masvingo governor Dzikamai Mavhaire and vice-presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo.
Mavhaire is believed to have been appointed after he played a central role in the government’s acquisition of Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi.
DTZ acquired the 862 000-acre ranch for Z$15 million in a forced sale from South Africa’s Imperial Cold Storage. The amount was a mere fraction of its value price.
DTZ is among other projects currently involved in game and crocodile farming on Nuanetsi and Bio-Energy (Pvt) Ltd, an ethanol plant jointly owned by Zanu PF and Billy Rautenbach, who also owns the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant.
According to the DTZ Trust deed, Mugabe has the power to unilaterally appoint or remove trustees without explanation.
DTZ-Ozgeo is believed to have mining rights to 425 000 hectares of land, to prospect for various minerals and is also suspected of taking over a 4 000 hectare gold and diamond claim in Chimanimani that had been granted to Botswana Diamonds.
Although the true value of the Chimanimani find is still unknown, Botswana Diamonds claims Chimanimani’s gems are of “higher value” than those in Marange whose industrial diamonds average between US$60- US$120 per carat on global markets.