Chidhakwa launches clean-up operation

MINISTRY of Mines top officials are in serious panic following news of a personnel reshuffle believed to be targeting individuals loyal to former Mines minister Obert Mpofu, businessdigest has learnt.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

The move is said to be driven by Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa’s campaign for a new culture of transparency in the department which has been tainted by serious accusations of corruption in recent years.

Close sources say directors feared they could be taken to less attractive portfolios after news the ministry’s finance director had been reassigned.

“The thing is non-technical directors are most likely to be affected, but even the technical ones are not entirely safe,” said a source who requested not to be named.

Contacted for comment this week, Mines secretary Francis Gudyanga said the ongoing changes were part of a routine government reshuffle that happens with each new government (or each new minister).

He said the public service commission was responsible for the shake-up and allocated skills to areas of need.

“Even the technical guys can be moved because you may use a geologist, say, in the ministry of environment (for instance) depending on the needs,” Gudyanga told businessdigest in an interview this week.

Chidhakwa this week said the ongoing changes were not targeting specific individuals, but a routine process.

He denied allegations that he was instrumental in the changes, saying he had no knowledge of individuals in the ministry.

“I don’t know everyone in the ministry and who they are aligned to, so I have no basis to influence decisions based on that,” Chidhakwa said.

Instead, Chidhakwa said he has taken time to interact with the ministry officials at a personal level in order to encourage a professional working culture.

“I have gone to some of their offices and simply said you are young and have a lot of potential so don’t jeopardise it by doing one thing that affects your reputation for ever,” he said.

“I believe that if you just talk to people they may get your message and show some positive change.”

Earlier this year, the Zimbabwe Independent reported Chidhakwa as keen on cleaning up the state-owned mining agencies, with sweeping board changes looming at the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and its subsidiaries.

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

At the time, sources said Chidhakwa was pushing for fresh faces to the ZMDC board and give the company a cleaner perception after its former chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa got embroiled in bribery allegations involving the diamonds.