WASHINGTON DC —
President Robert Mugabe has demanded the arrest of top officials at the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) involved in diamond mining in Manicaland province’s Marange fields, accusing them of fleecing prospective investors of about US$6 million.
According to the government-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Mugabe made the shock revelation at a dinner which followed his address at the official opening of the 8th parliament on Tuesday in which he vowed to weed out corruption in government.
President Mugabe is quoted by the ZBC as saying the ZMDC management team, led by chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa, told a Ghanaian investor who wanted to invest in the local diamond mining industry to transfer to them about US$6 million.
Once the money was transferred, the ZMDC team allegedly asked for further payments in cash and then warned the Ghanaian not to visit Zimbabwe saying he risked being arrested.
“They asked the Ghanaians to transfer US$6 million for the deal and then asked for another amount which did not come through the formal transaction but as cash and that amount is still unaccounted for. And this is being done by our people. Such naked corruption cannot go unpunished,” said Mugabe.
The president said the scandal was not even known by the then Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu, who only knew about the issue when the Ghanaian investor met him in Washington, USA.
Masimirembwa is said to have told Mpofu and the Attorney General Johannes Tomana in Washington that the Ghanaian risked arrest as something was amiss in their investment deal.
President Mugabe said after assurances from the police, the Ghanaian then visited Zimbabwe and was met in Bulawayo by Minister Mpofu, the police and Masimirembwa’s team to discuss the matter.
“He then came through Bulawayo and was met there by the minister, the Police Commissioner General and Masimirembwa’s team, and the minister asked Masimirembwa to explain his position and he could not. This is not acceptable in our country and if this is what we are, and then damn us, let the law damn us,” fumed Mugabe.
VOA Studio 7 was not able to reach Masimirembwa for comment as his mobile phone was not being answered.
The ZMDC is in charge of Zimbabwe’s diamond and other mineral interests in the country. The European Union is in the process of delisting the entity from targeted sanctions imposed by the regional bloc on President Mugabe, his inner circle and companies linked to them.