Zanu PF infighting behind arrest of Mining officials – Source

HARARE – Six top officials from Canadile Miners joint diamond venture were arrested under allegations of fraudulently acquiring government permission to mine diamonds in the Chiadzwa, Marange District of eastern Zimbabwe

But the Zimbabwe Mail can reveal that the arrested officials are victims of Zanu PF rival factions fighting for the control Zimbabwe diamond resources, a Senior Zanu PF and government official said this morning.

President Robert Mugabe and Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, his favoured successor in the bitterly contested Zanu PF succession plan are believed to be outflanking the faction led by retired General Solomon Mujuru in the diamond smuggling business.

Zimbabwe police arrested five diamond executives from the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), and one representative of the diamond company’s South African Partner, Core Mining and Mineral Resources Limited, in the 50-50 diamond mining venture, Canadile Miners.

ZMDC Chief Executive Officer, Dominic Mubaiwa, company secretary, Tichaona Muhonde, chairperson Gloria Mawarire and board members Ashton Ndlovu and Mark Tsomondo are among those arrested. Both were suspended from work last week.

Police spokesman, Wayne Bvudzijena, said that the diamond mining case is being investigated by detectives from the CID Border Control and Minerals Unit.

This morning a Senior Zanu PF official confirmed to our reporter that the arrests are politically motivated and linked to bitter Zanu PF infighting.

The source said the President’s wife Grace Mugabe, Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mines Minister Obert Mpofu are behind the arrests. 

Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa are said to be at the centre of Zimbabwe diamond mining company, Mbada Diamonds, and the rival faction led by General Mujuru is said to have been linked to the incarcerated ZMDC officials at the centre of the alleged fraud.

According to reports from reliable government sources, Grace is working with retired Senior Airforce commander Air Marshall Robert Mhlanga, the Chairperson of Mbada Diamonds who is her proxy.

Retired Air Marshall Mhlanga is also a close friend of retired Wing Commander Goreraza, the First Lady’s former husband who now running a diamond smuggling sales office in China.

Mr Mhlanga is President Mugabe’s personal helicopter pilot and sources at Manyame Airbase in Harare said the retired Air Marshall makes occasional diamond smuggling flights to Mozambique every week.

"The First Lady is one of the shareholders in Mbada Diamonds and she wants to see us down in order to put her own people into this position," said an official from the ministry of mines who is now under arrest. 

This is not the first time that Mugabe is accused of direct involvement with mining activities at Marange. In the past, Mugabe was accused of benefiting directly from the diamonds, including a report from 2009 of shopping for a polishing facility in China. 

In 2008, President Mugabe was suspected of smuggling diamonds to China were his wife’s former husband is believed to be handling the sales operations.

Sources say that the representatives misrepresented to the government their funding capacity in the new Marange operation. According to reports, the diamond mining executives falsified documents indicating that a fake South African company, BSGR, was looking to invest $2 billion in Zimbabwe. They went so far as to travel to South Africa to fake a review of the phony company’s diamond mining investment capacity.

"When they came back, they gave the Mines Ministry a report in which they claimed BSGR was fully operational and a suitable investor in the sector", a police source told the Herald.

Based on the falsified information, the Zimbabwe government gave official permission for ZMDC and Core Mining and Mineral Resources Limited to form Canadile Miners and begin planning their diamond mining venture in the Marange diamond fields.

The Herald, Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, claims to be reliably informed that Canadile Miners had no cash, but borrowed $1.5 million from Agribang to begin their diamond mining operations. Once government investigations disentangled the scam, they quickly arrested the culprits and suspended Canadile’s operations.

Mubaiwa and three other executives are also being investigated over alleged siphoning of $40 million in gold and diamond earnings.

In the last few years Zimbabwe’s First Lady has grown so powerful and she has established a very strong network, both in government and private sector.

She has placed close relatives in almost every government Ministry’s strategic positions, particularly the Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs.

A source in the Justice Ministry said about 95% of employees at the Attorney General’s office are related to Grace Mugabe, including the Attorney General himself Johannes Tomana and the Chief prosecutor Chris Mutangadura. The Foreign Affairs Ministry officials are running a diamond smuggling syndicates at Zimbabwean embassies abroad.