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Diamond mine haunts Chihuri

by Staff reporter
28 Jun 2018 at 08:53hrs | Views
FORMER commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Augustine Chihuri personalised a diamond firm called Gye Nyame that operated in Marange diamond fields in partnership with the force, a Parliamentary report has said.

It called for contempt charges against a string of police and government officials who could have lied under oath during intense grilling by the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy early this year.

The ZRP entered into a joint venture agreement with Ghanaian and Zimbabwean partners in 2009 to exploit vast diamond reserves in the area.

Gye Nyame has been integrated into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company along with about six other firms that held concessions in the controversial diamond fields.

But in a report on the $15 billion missing diamonds released recently, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy revealed that Gye's operations were "opaque", with the police chief hiding documents on the firm from the Ministry of Home Affairs, which superintends over the force.

"It was clear to the committee that the company was to some extent personalised with strong ties to the former commissioner-general, Dr A Chihuri," said the 16 page report.

It hit out at Chihuri for unilaterally appointing board members to Gye Nyame without approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs and slammed his appointees for exhibiting "ignorance" about their role in the controversial gem mine's board.

The report fears that such laxity in the administration of mines in the vast concessions could have sparked the mass scale looting of the precious gems, estimated by former president Robert Mugabe to be in the region of $15 billion, but is estimated at $50 billion by some civic groups.

During oral submissions to the committee conducted early this year, officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs professed ignorance about the existence of Gye, precipitating questions about its ownership.

"Although the permanent secretary and Minister of Home Affairs claimed they were not aware of the operations and existence of Gye Nyame, the committee was concerned this matter was in the public domain, which should have prompted them to take action. The written submissions by the former commissioner-general Dr A. Chihuri pointed to the fact that the permanent secretary of home affairs was briefed about the concessions. There is, therefore, a possibility of misleading Parliament by either of the parties. As such, charges of contempt of Parliament may be preferred against either of the parties should it become clear that there was a deliberate intention to mislead the committee. The conduct of the police was contrary to the virtues of professionalism as required of them by Section 219 (1) (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," the report noted.

Chihuri was one of several people that were called to testify on the missing diamonds but did not attend. The others include Mugabe and a local lawyer.

"The administration of Gye Nyame as a concession leaves a lot to be desired and it was not consistent with the basic principles of public administration and corporate governance. There was no formal agreement recognising the diamond concession given to the police.

"The police could not supply documents showing the terms and conditions of the operation," noted the report.It said police intimidated and arrested its partners in the mine. Partners from Ghana were deported under influence from the police, it noted.

"One of the local partners, Mr Munyeza, outlined that the partnership agreement was fraught with acts of intimidation and opaqueness on the part of the police. Mr Munyeza further accused the police of deliberately causing the deportation of the Ghanaians and of pushing out the local partners.

At one stage Mr Munyeza was abducted by the police and to secure his release, he was forced to surrender the keys to a safe securing the diamonds owned by Gye Nyame. The diamonds that were taken forcibly by the police could not be accounted for," it said.

Source - fingaz