Following their maiden tour of Marange diamond fields this week, some Zimbabwean lawmakers are calling on the anti-corruption commission to investigate operations in the controversial area saying they were not satisfied with responses from some of the mining executives.
The parliamentary mines committee concluded their week-long fact-finding mission on Friday, but some legislators allege “sinister operations” are going on there, adding that if Zimbabwe had “a normal government” some of the mining companies would have been shut down, or prosecuted by now.
Chiredzi West lawmaker Moses Mare of the MDC formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai charged that management at some of the companies, in particular Mbada Diamonds, deliberately withheld information.
He said managers were hostile, even shutting down their plants and sending workers away so the lawmakers could not see the production line.
ZANU PF legislator and committee chairman Edward Chindori-Chininga was quoted in the state-run Herald newspaper as saying there was a protracted argument with Mbada management, prompting him to tell them the committee was not on a witch-hunt but was merely performing its oversight role.
“We were surprised by the manner in which they behaved," Mare told VOA’s Violet Gonda. "Mbada Diamond Mines is not a normal company that is operating under the supervision of the government. They do things the way they want.
"They switched off their machines and asked their employees to run away. So we just saw a ghost company. We didn't’t even see a single diamond. They were really hostile and very stubborn.”
He said public hearings with the affected community, which had been organized by the MPs also failed to materialize, alleging people were told not to talk to the parliamentarians.
While it was evident that major production was going on, Mare said, this did not match with the amount of money being sent to the fiscus from diamond sales.
He added that the Chinese-dominated Anjin Mining Company has seven processing plants which produce 5 000 carats of diamonds per day translating into more than a million carats a month, which are not accounted for.
This is a staggering amount considering there are four other mining companies in Marange, Mare said.
“If this was a normal government the anti-corruption unit was supposed to descend on Mbada as soon as yesterday."
But Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told VOA's Sandra Nyaira government had nothing to hide in Marange, arguing that is why lawmakers and other interested groups were being cleared to tour the mining fields.