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Government set up team to probe diamondgate scandal

by Staff reporter
03 Oct 2013 at 02:17hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has set up a team to probe the $6 million corruption allegations being levelled against former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation board chairman Mr Godwills Masimirembwa, though progress is being stalled by the failure to interview the Ghanaian complainant, Mr William Ato Essien.

This was disclosed by Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa while responding to a question by Hurungwe West legislator Temba Mliswa on progress made in the investigations.

"I have instructed that we get as much information as possible. Unfortunately, the team that I have asked to speak to the various people involved has not managed to talk to the Ghanaian partner and you are aware the Ghanaian partner is the one who is supposed to come and make the complaint, so we will make sure that the case is resolved and the mining continues."

Minister Chidhakwa, however, reiterated that Government would not tolerate corruption and promised to deal with offenders as enunciated by President Mugabe while officially opening the First Session of the Eighth Parliament of Zimbabwe last month.

"I want to assure you that this country cannot succeed until and unless we deal with the issue of corruption and as Minister of Mines, working together with our colleagues in the system, we are determined to ensure that the issue of corruption is dealt with. You heard the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe speak openly and candidly on the same that we will not tolerate corruption."

Mr Masimirembwa allegedly demanded a bribe from Gye Nyame, a Ghanaian firm which sought to invest in diamond mining at Chiadzwa.

The firm began mining operations in Marange in 2011.
Revelations of the alleged underhand dealings were made by President Mugabe at a luncheon hosted by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing after the official opening of Parliament.

The President said Mr Masimirembwa and his group demanded money in cash and created a shelf company that took equity in the diamond mining firm under unclear circumstances.

Mr Masimirembwa reportedly then threatened that the Ghanaians would be arrested if they came to Zimbabwe because they had violated unspecified laws.

Despite assurances given to the investors by Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri that they had not contravened any law, Mr Masimirembwa allegedly insisted that the Ghanaians would be arrested.

President Mugabe said efforts by the Ghanaians to approach former South African president Thabo Mbeki for assistance through that country's central bank drew blanks as Mr Masimirembwa reportedly continued warning that the police intended to arrest them.

The Ghanaians, President Mugabe said, ended up flying all the way to Washington to meet the then Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu (now the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development), who was attending a diamond mining conference there.

Mr Masimirembwa resigned from the ZMDC board just before the July 31 harmonised elections to contest the Mabvuku-Tafara seat which he narrowly lost to Mr James Maridadi of MDC-T.

Mr Masimirembwa, who insists his hands are clean, has indicated his willingness to give his side of the story.

Source - herald