Diamond sleaze shortchanges Chiadzwa folk

RAMPANT corruption and shadowy activities plaguing diamond mining in Chiadzwa have disadvantaged ordinary folk while a few privileged individuals are milking immense benefits from the natural resource, Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Chris Mushowe has said.

CLAYTON MASEKESA

Addressing the Mutare Press club last week, Mushowe said diamonds had not improved the lives of Zimbabweans, including the people of Manicaland who are living in the midst of the precious mineral.

He said Manicaland remained one of the poorest provinces in the country despite vast diamond fields.

“Manicaland and the entire country could have been a better place in terms of development, but corruption and dishonesty has destroyed the country,” said Mushowe.

“We have seen more and more people driving beautiful and expensive cars, some of them being latest models. It all shows that there is something happening at Chiadzwa.”

Revenue generated from the Chiadzwa gems has not sufficiently reached Treasury in previous years, according to former Finance minister Tendai Biti, raising speculation that a cabal of powerful politicians and businesspeople were siphoning millions of dollars at the expense of an ailing economy. Several cases of high profile corruption surrounding diamond mining have been exposed including a recent one involving ex-Zimbabwe Mining Development Company boss Godwills Masimirembwa, whom President Robert Mugabe publicly alleged received a US$6 million bribe from Ghanaian investors.

Mushowe said the people of Manicaland were not happy with the corruption in the diamond mining sector and passionately urged journalists to expose the scourge.

“You are the voice of the voiceless,” he said. “You have the power to say what other people are fearful of saying. The country looks to you to tell the story.”

Mushowe said government would ensure companies mining in Chiadzwa complied with the laws governing community trusts.

He said diamond mining companies had not done enough in their social responsibility programmes despite exploiting minerals and their mining activities compromised the health of people living near the mines through inhalation of dust.

“In Chiadzwa there are not enough clinics, people are sleeping without eating anything and children have no school fees. So what are we doing?” he asked.

“They are human beings, not animals. We will see to it that people benefit from their diamonds.”