Zimbabwe’s Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur Mutambara, lashed out at Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF’s former regime for giving a contract to mine diamonds to a state-owned company, saying it doesn’t have capacity.
Addressing businesspeople at a meeting organized by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) in Bulawayo on Thursday, Mutambara, who is also the president of a small break- way faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), lashed out at the former Zanu PF government for awarding state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC) a tender to mine newly discovered diamond fields in the Chiadzwa area in Manicaland Province, in eastern Zimbabwe.
ZMDC started mining Chiadzwa last year.
The Mugabe government seized Chiadzwa diamond operation from British-based Africa Consolidated Resources in 2007 and set off a diamond rush when it encouraged locals to help themselves.
“ZMDC has no capacity to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa; it should move out. It was wrong for the previous Mugabe regime to give ZMDC that contract. They have no equipment and there are no experts in that company,” said Mutambara
Mutambara said the new unity government is going to look for a foreign company with diamond mining experts to start mining Chiadzwa.
“There is chaos at Chiadzwa. ZMDC is doing nothing; my new government is going to look for a foreign company with diamond experts to start mining Zimbabwe’s largest diamond fields. We can’t suffer while we have such resources in the country,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.
He declared that all state-owned companies are broke and are operating at below 20%.
“All state companies are broke at the moment, after the previous government ministers looted them. Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and many other government parastatals are running at a loss and operating at below 20%,” he said.
The mining of diamonds in Chiadzwa is currently at the centre of a probe by an international team from the United Nation’s world diamond regulatory body, the Kimberley Process.
The UN is investigating reports of mass murder at the hands of soldiers.
The international team, which monitors the trade in “blood diamonds”, will report back on the allegations of killings at Chiadzwa.
In November 2008, Manicaland police disclosed that a joint police and army crackdown on illegal diamond mining in Manicaland and natural causes had claimed the lives of 20 people.
The illegal miners were allegedly shot during clashes with the state security forces or died due to various ailments at the troubled diamond fields.
In April, the world’s diamond certification body ordered a ban on the trade of diamonds from eastern Zimbabwe, over concerns of human rights violations at the Chiadzwa diamond fields.