Sweeping board changes loom at ZMDC

BOARD changes loom at the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and its subsidiaries amid indications Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa intends to clean up legacy issues at the government-owned mining entity.

Chris Muronzi/Owen Gagare

The ZMDC holds shares on behalf of government in Mbada Diamonds, Anjin and the Diamond Mining Corporation.

Although Chidhakwa could not be reached for comment, sources close to the developments told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the minister is keen on seconding fresh faces to the ZMDC and give the company a cleaner perception after its former chairman Godwills Masimirembwa got embroiled in diamond-bribery allegations involving the precious mineral.

Chidhakwa, described by President Robert Mugabe as an “honest, hardworking young man” is also aiming at bringing transparency to the mining sector, particularly in the diamond mining industry which has been tainted by allegations of massive looting and opacity, resulting in low remittance to treasury.

Last year then Finance minister Tendai Biti was forced to revise his US$4 billion national budget to US$3,4 billion after US$600 million expected from diamond sales did not materialise.

Only US$41,6 million was remitted.

“It appears the minister wants transparency in diamond mining operations and his moves may result in more information being availed on production figures and revenue generated from diamond sales.

“It’s going to be difficult to totally clean up the sector because some bigwigs have been benefiting from diamond proceeds, but I’m sure remittance to treasury will improve,” said a senior official in the ministry.

“In addition, there are moves to scrutinise some of the joint ventures entered into by ZMDC and its partners to exploit minerals.”
According to sources, Chidhakwa will soon second people he feels will represent government interests diligently and will also re-align the board of ZMDC’s various subsidiaries including joint venture diamond mines.

But a senior official at the Mines ministry, who confirmed there will be board changes, said other than transparency issues, the boards of ZMDC and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe were set to be reconstituted after some members resigned to stand as Zanu PF candidates in the July 31 harmonised elections.

Masimirembwa stepped down as chairperson of the ZMDC board to contest in parliamentary elections on a Zanu PF ticket for the Mabvuku-Tafara seat which he lost.

while another board member, Supa Mandiwanzira, won the Nyanga South seat and was subsequently appointed Information, Media and Broadcasting Services deputy minister.

Former MMCZ board chairman Chris Mutsvangwa, now the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, resigned to venture into politics while Colonel Tshinga Dube, who was the chairman of Marange Resources, which is wholly owned by ZMDC, also resigned to contest in the elections.

Sources said the vacancies have given Chidhakwa a perfect opportunity to bring people he feels will pursue his vision.