THE Mines Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Thursday ruled that it would be difficult for Zimbabwe to recover its missing diamond revenues from some of the people implicated in the scam. The committee told Parliament’s last sitting on Thursday that it was now clear that the country would not recover its $15 billion missing diamonds revenue after former Mines ministry secretary Francis Gudyanga MPs said that they were “chasing after the wind”.
by VENERANDA LANGA
“The former Mines secretary, Gudyanga informed the committee that the truth will never come out on the missing diamond revenues. He stated that: ‘when it comes to diamonds, there are syndicates that are very sophisticated in the country and outside the country and many people get involved. Many beneficiaries get involved to ensure that the truth never comes out,” said the committee in its report.
The committee said in essence, Gudyanga had acknowledged that the country had lost revenue from diamonds, and that accounting for the money would require the support of both international and local law enforcement agencies, given the intricacies involved in the diamond sector.
Current Mines ministry secretary Munesuishe Munodawafa also told the committee that Auditor-General (AG) Mildred Chiri had been engaged to conduct a forensic audit on the joint venture companies, but failed to locate them.
“However, some of the joint venture companies attended the committee hearings and they indicated that they were willing to have their books audited by the AG. It is the committee’s position that the Ministry of Mines and the AG have been complacent in conducting a forensic audit to determine the revenue loses that may have been suffered by the country,” the report said.
Civic activists like Farai Maguwu recommended that government needed to engage countries and cities such as Dubai, China and India where the diamonds were being marketed to ascertain the value and losses the country might have suffered.
Maguwu and Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association director, Shamiso Mutisi said the second option was for the country to take their case to the United Nations.
“It was clear during the committee’s enquiry that the country has lost and continues to lose its diamonds through smuggling and leakages. This was attributed to a number of factors that include the porous border lines, shortage of vehicles for the police to conduct effective surveillance, non-intrusive gadgets for searching, modern scanners and drone technology to monitor the Chiadzwa area,” the report said.
Illegal panners were said to have also compounded the problem with the Police Minerals and Border Control Unit having told the committee that for the period 2013 to 2017 approximately 2 800 carats were recovered and a few convictions made.
“The committee was informed by the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe that for the period 2006 to 2017, the country produced just over 51 million carats of diamonds, with a value of approximately $2,4 billion. Out of that figure, government received approximately $300 million in the form of royalties in sharp contrast to former Mines minister Obert Mpofu’s claims that on an annual basis the country would generate diamond revenues worth $2 billion,” the report said.