Parly to grill Jinan

HARARE - Chinese diamond mining firm, Jinan Mining Limited (Jinan), has been summoned to appear before Parliament this Thursday to clarify how it handled the controversial community share ownership schemes, a part of the government’s empowerment programme.

According to a parliamentary circular, Jinan will appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Youth Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment in the Senate Chamber to give oral evidence on its contribution to the Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (MZCSOT).

Diamond miners in Marange had pledged to give the Marange-Zimunya community share ownership trusts $10 million each.

Jinan will have to clarify what happened to the community share ownership trust and explain whether President Robert Mugabe was not misled.

This comes as government has ordered diamond mining firms to stop operations immediately and leave the Marange fields as their licences have expired.

The diamond fields in the east of Zimbabwe were mined by nine firms. Eight, including two Chinese-run companies, were joint ventures 50 percent owned by the government and the other one is wholly-owned by the State.

MZCSOT was established in 2012, and meant to spearhead development in communities surrounding the mines using proceeds from the diamond mines. The trusts have however been mired in controversy.

Mugabe was apparently fooled in July 2013 by diamond mining companies in Marange when he was made to present a dummy $1,5 million cheque to the(MZCSOT). Only $400 000 was later deposited and at least $1,1 million is still missing.

It also emerged in Parliament in 2014 that the trustees of the(MZCSOT) misused $45 000 of the $400 000 that was deposited into the community trust account and failed to adequately account for it before the committee.

Other inconsistencies arose on the amount contributed by diamond firms, with then Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere said to have told Mugabe that five foreign mining firms doing business in the Chiadzwa diamond fields had each pledged $10 million to the trust to empower the communities.

But in March 2014, the companies — Mbada, Anjin, Diamond Mining Corporation, Jinan and Marange Resources — denied penning agreements obligating them to pay a combined $50 million to the MZCSOT, and that the vaunted deals were nothing more than “gentlemen’s agreements”.

These contradictions, and the fact that Mugabe presented a dummy cheque to the trust, prompted Parliament to summon Kasukuwere.

But the attempts by the committee chaired by Gokwe-Nembudziya Zanu PF MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena to get Kasukuwere to explain the confusion were blocked by the then clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma, who argued that the august House could not interrogate a former minister on issues that were no-longer under his ambit.

While Mugabe, was made to “hawk around dummy cheques” for the money paid by the Marange gem miners, analysts say the community share ownership trusts’ socio-economic agenda was always in doubt.

Diamond mining in the country has been and still is shrouded in secrecy, with reports of looting and other related forms of corruption by well-connected Zanu PF officials.

 

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