ZCDC mess, we told you so!

HARARE - On Monday, Mines ministry permanent secretary Francis Gudyanga saw red as the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines, chaired by Masvingo urban Member of Parliament Daniel Shumba, hauled him over the coals.

The committee told Gudyanga that the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) — a State-owned diamond firm formed after government kicked out private miners — has been operating illegally for the past four months!

The country’s laws dictate that all State-owned enterprises must be empowered through Acts of Parliament enabling them to conduct business.

But, the ill-advised and hastily formed ZCDC does not have Parliament’s permission to operate.

The legislators told Gudyanga the company, which has only managed to remit a paltry $1 million to Treasury in the first half of the year, was operating outside the law.

There were also revelations that the present ZCDC board was not fully constituted — disabling it from effecting any decisions, with the same board having sacked 11 employees to date.

While Gudyanga claimed the dismissals were a polygraph test, he could not vouch if they were done in line with labour laws.

All this not only exonerates the Daily News from the brickbats and battering it received for warning the Zanu PF government against its ill-advised seizure of diamond companies, but also goes on to show how myopic our leaders are. Only a few months ago, we shouted our voices hoarse telling all and sundry that the illegal seizure of diamond mines in Marange would result in far-reaching consequences for the country’s economy.

Hardly six months have passed and the country is facing one of its worst cash crises in years, largely due to foreign investor flight caused by reckless, inconsistent and controversial policies.

The closure of six diamond firms, which were at the forefront of ensuring the availability of cash in Zimbabwe through employment and a raft of royalties, not only crippled this flow but also forced thousands of workers onto the streets.

Instead of promoting transparency and accountability — as Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa wanted the whole world to believe — the State-owned ZCDC has failed to increase production and has only remitted a fraction of what former miners used to remit to Treasury.

While we understand most miners previously stationed at Chiadzwa did not contribute as much as was expected, the firms at least employed thousands of people and were instrumental in many social responsibility programmes.

We have said it before, and we will say it again. President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF-led government do not care a hoot about the suffering of the masses and have failed, for the umpteenth time, to fulfil their election promises — uplifting the lives of many poor Zimbabweans.

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