Claims by former President Robert Mugabe that Zimbabwe could have lost $15 billion in diamond revenue may have been made by officials seeking to justify the closure of diamond mines in the Chiadzwa fields and the consolidation of operations under the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, Defence secretary, Martin Rushwaya told Parliament today.
He was testifying before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy which is probing allegations by Mugabe on March 5, 2016 that the country could have lost the revenue in shady diamond deals. The long time ruler was forced out of office last November by a de facto army coup.
“When Mugabe announced the issue of the $15 billion, we said to our colleagues from the Mines Ministry that they must come up with an explanation and asked who gave Mugabe those figures but nobody came out,” Rushwaya said.
“Obviously, whoever gave the figures was someone mischievous and with an ulterior motive, maybe to justify consolidation of diamond mines in Chiadzwa because there was no scientific evidence that there are $15 billion worth of diamonds in Chiadzwa. It is difficult to reach $14 billion diamond output the world over in a year,” he said.
Mugabe’s government shut down seven mining firms operating in the Chiadzwa fields on February 22, 2016, and consolidated their assets and operations into ZCDC.
Rushwaya said the decision to send armed members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police to forcefully shut down operations were ‘a moment of madness.’
He said Anjin, a diamond mining partnership between Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Ltd of China (AFECC) and Matt Bronze, an investment vehicle controlled by Zimbabwe’s military “was purely a commercial operation whose operations were transparent”.
“Anjin got $332 674 088.70 gross amount from a total diamond extraction of 9.022 million carats. A total of $62 813 026 was paid to government as royalties. The army then asked for an advance of $54 452 857 from the Chinese partners because we had to do critical national payments. We helped struggling parastatals with $5 million, $12.5 million went to Zimbabwe Defense College as government had failed to pay for initial investments, $1 million was advanced to ZMDC and $330 000 to ZRP,” said Rushwaya.- The Source