AN APPARENTLY angry President Robert Mugabe may have on September 17 thumped the podium as he accused former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa of corruption, giving the impression that swift action would be taken, but sources close to the case told the Zimbabwe Independent this week it was as good as dead.
The sources revealed the prospects of a swoop on Masimirembwa, heightened by police confirmation that investigations were underway, was unlikely because it would expose high-profile individuals who were involved in shady diamond dealings.
Masimirembwa, according to Mugabe, demanded a US$6 million bribe from Ghanaian businessman William Ato Essien who was a member of Gye Nyame, a diamond mining company operating in Chiadzwa.
As a way to silence Essien and ensure he does not come back to Zimbabwe, Masimirembwa allegedly misinformed the Ghanaian he would be arrested if he set foot in the country.
Although Essien told the Zimbabwe Independent in September he had supplied all the documentation and evidence on the alleged chicanery to Mugabe, government officials have in recent weeks said they wanted the businessman to come to Zimbabwe so that he can be interviewed. He told this newspaper then he would file an official complaint with the authorities upon visiting the country in the first week of October, but has since failed to turn up.
Essien was not answering his mobile phone yesterday and did not respond to text messages.
Sources close to the matter revealed the Ghanaian was unlikely to visit Zimbabwe as there were some heavyweights who had worked around the clock to ensure he doesn’t come, thereby nipping any investigations in the bud.
“It’s unlikely that the case will move forward because of the high number of bigwigs involved in diamond deals, including the case mentioned by the president. Officially they are saying the complainant in the case has not availed himself, but that is just an excuse; someone has made sure he doesn’t come,” said the source.
“There are some powerful people who don’t want the complainant to come as a way of covering up the case, and so far they have succeeded. Initially the complainant was threatened with arrest should he come to Zimbabwe, and it seems the threats have worked.”
A few days after Mugabe accused Masimirembwa of swindling Essien, the police indicated they were investigating the allegations, although they said his absence was stalling progress as he was the“crown witness” in the matter.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has a 20% stake in the diamond mining company, which was initially a joint venture between the ZMDC and Ghana’s Bill Minerals before the shareholding structure changed. The equity structure now comprises ZMDC which has a 50% stake, ZRP (20%), Essien (24%), and Dantor (6%). Dantor represents the interests of local shareholders Itai Munyeza and Blessmore Chanakira.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday refused to comment on allegations that investigations had stalled because of the involvement of some “big fish”.
She said the police issued a statement after the president’s pronouncements, which statement still holds. Charamba could not be drawn into revealing how far the police had gone with their investigations but said she was not aware of any new developments.
Mugabe’s public outburst on corruption sent shockwaves beyond the local diamond mining industry as he vowed graft would not go unpunished.
Many Zimbabweans expected a speedy investigation into the matter, given Mugabe’s unprecedented public outburst.
His statement was seen as an indication he finally wanted to fight corruption, but the inaction over the matter has resulted in questions over his sincerity.