PARLIAMENT will late this month embark on a tour of the Marange diamond fields as part of investigations into the problems bedevilling the sector, following last month’s Cabinet decision to kick out all gem miners. The Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment summoned diamond mining companies to investigate the rot in the diamond sector in the wake of revelations by President Robert Mugabe that government could have lost as much as $15 billion in revenue.
“The committee wants to investigate how such an amount could have disappeared as well as continue with its work on the operations of community share ownership trusts (CSOTs). Clerk of Parliament, Kennedy Chokuda wrote to the mining companies requesting them to appear before the committee in a field tour to Marange,” NewsDay heard. But Chokuda, while admitting there had been a hiccup regarding the trip, denied it was of Mines minister Walter Chidakwa’s making.
“We got clearance from the police a bit late and that is why we deferred the tour,” he said on Tuesday. The committee, headed by Gokwe-Nembudziya lawmaker, Justice Mayor Wadyajena (Zanu PF), intends to tour the diamond fields as well as have a look at projects under the contentious CSOTs, according to an itinerary seen by NewsDay.
“The objectives of the public hearings and field visits (are to) get the views of the beneficiaries of the CSOTs on the operations of the same, to assess the projects being implemented under the same, get an appreciation of the challenges encountered and to come up with recommendations for effective operation of the CSOTs,” the itinerary said. Wadyajena was not available for comment.
Mugabe, in an interview to mark his 92nd birthday, stunned the nation when he revealed the rot in the diamond sector had resulted in Zimbabwe losing four times its annual National Budget. According to an invitation sent out to journalists, the committee will be touring the diamond fields from March 31 to April 2.
Former Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere was last year hauled before the same committee to explain the intricacies of the CSOTs, amid revelations the companies had “never committed to donating $10 million” each to the projects. Kasukuwere alleged Wadyajena was on a witch-hunt, but the Gokwe-Nembudziya MP later claimed he had been threatened by the Zanu PF national commissar.