THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has fired its acting chief executive Ridge Nyashanu amid reports of a dramatic plunge in production and revenue.
This comes a few months after the ZCDC relieved its former CE Mark Mabhudhu of his duties in unclear circumstances.
Nyashanu was dismissed on Wednesday evening after an internal report showing he was responsible for the plunge in the fortunes of the state-run diamond miner.
“Nyashanu was fired last night (Wednesday) and a police report has been made because he went with a company vehicle (Mercedes Benz GL),” a source said.
Nyashanu has since been replaced by a new CE, Morris Mpofu, who was the head of the exchange control unit at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Mpofu was introduced to ZCDC management and staff yesterday.
Contacted for comment, Nyashanu, upon hearing the reporter was from the Zimbabwe Independent, cut off the call and subsequently switched off his mobile.
Nyashanu was controversially appointed after Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa and his permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga, on one side, clashed with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation board members for appointing people without experience in the diamond mining sector.
Investigations by this paper show that Gudyanga fired the previous executive and replaced it with inexperienced people.
“There was drama during the appointment of Nyashanu as other board members had recommended Mpofu,” the source said.
“Mpofu was blocked by state security interventions at the time.”
The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy last year grilled Gudyanga over the controversial appointment of Nyashanu.
The committee was concerned with the legalities of certain processes and corporate governance issues and developments at the ZCDC, which they felt were prejudicial to the state.
This included the appointment of a board, dismissal of 11 employees and appointment of an acting CE who was said to be Gudyanga’s former student at the University of Zimbabwe.
Nysahanu’s firing comes at a time the ZCDC suffered a major blow last week after its concerted efforts to continue extracting diamond ore in Chiadzwa were halted by the High Court through an interdict.
The government-owned diamond company was barred from collecting diamond ore mined by Mbada Diamonds (Pvt) Ltd following an application filed by Mbada’s 50% shareholder Grandwell Holdings.
According to the court papers, sometime in March last year, Grandwell Holdings, which owns 50% shareholding in Mbada Diamonds, obtained an interim order entitling its security personnel and its entire chain to return to Chiadzwa in order to safeguard its assets following the cancellation of mining licences by government.
But for reasons unknown to Grandwell Holdings, the ZCDC allegedly removed all the security from the mining fields and started looting the diamond ore, prompting the former to approach the court for recourse.
In his founding affidavit, Grandwell’s chairperson David Kassel said: “The first respondent (ZCDC), through its officers led by one Reggie (Ridge) Nyashanu and accompanied by officers of the Zimbabwe Republic police, have and continue to collect, from the third respondent’s (Mbada Diamonds) concession area, diamond ore mined by the third respondent, which they take to the first respondent’s concession area, an area previously mined by Marange Resources (Pvt) Ltd.”
“. . . This trucking of ore is taking place right now, there is no chain of custody of the diamond ore and the diamonds recovered from the ore. There is no accountability of the ore, . . . they entered Marange concession area during the night on the 20th of January 2017 and evening on the 21st of January 2017 and unlawfully removed stockpiles of diamond ore from the third respondent’s red zone, a zone that should not be entered without the approval of the third respondent’s security personnel.”
Kassel added: “They forcibly entered the red zone assisted by the officers of the ZRP under the leadership of one Assistant Commissioner Dube; tampered with sort hours lock-boxes and the main vault together with safes in the third respondent’s concession area.”
Handing down judgement in the matter, High Court judge Justice Amie Tsanga said: “. . . Pending the confirmation of the final order, it is ordered that; the first and second respondents (ZCDC and Commissioner General of Police, Augustine Chihuri) and those acting on their behalf be and are hereby interdicted from collecting, from the third respondent’s concession area, diamond ore mined by the third respondent, accessing areas secured by security personnel of the third respondent or otherwise interfering in any manner with such security arrangements in relation to the said concession area.”