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Zimbabwe Mining Agency Head Denies Bypassing Treasury in Revenue Move

  • Gibbs Dube

The Mining Development Corporation is the government's agent in joint ventures with the firms engaged in mining activities in Marange, but Finance Minister Biti has often complained of a lack of transparency in the management of diamond revenues

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Chairman Godwills Masimirembwa has responded to critics who say his state agency bypassed Treasury channels in paying out diamond revenues to allow for an increase in civil service salaries.

In remarks published Monday in the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Masimirembwa said he did not circumvent rules in remitting funds to the state as has been charged by some in the Morgan Tsvangirai wing of the Movement for Democratic Change.

Such critics accused Masimirembwa's agency of transferring funds directly to the Salary Services Bureau rather than to the Treasury for eventual remittance to public workers.

Treasury sources said they had no knowledge of the US$40 million in proceeds from Marange diamond sales made available to fund increased civil service salaries. Sources said it was unlikely the funds would not have been detected by the Treasury.

Neither Finance Minister Tendai Biti nor Masimirembwa was available for comment.

Political and economic commentators said the ZMDC should follow proper channels and procedures in the handling of revenues from the controversial Marange diamond field.

The Mining Development Corporation is the government's agent in joint ventures with the firms engaged in mining activities in Marange, but Finance Minister Biti has often complained of a lack of transparency in the management of diamond revenues.

Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga said the corporation should remit funds directly and only to the Treasury to avoid conflicts within the unity government.

Political analyst Nkululeko Sibanda said ZANU-PF is using the country’s natural resources to revitalize its political base.

“If President [Robert] Mugabe can get money which the MDC cannot access he will use it to promote ZANU\-PF interests and for the same reason the MDC will also use access to power and authority either through the Treasury or other means,” Sibanda said.

Elsewhere, dozens of families resettled on a state-owned farm in Odzi, Manicaland province, from their former homes in Marange, say they have been cheated.

They said the diamond mining companies which relocated them have failed to keep their promises six months after their move, correspondent Loirdham Moyo reported.

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