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Storm brews at ZCDC

…As board members resign en-masse

TINASHE MAKICHI

Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) board members have resigned en-masse in alleged protest over government’s decision to award part of Chiadzwa diamond fields to Chinese firm, Anjin, citing lack of consultation.

Anjin Investments, jointly owned by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Ltd of China and Matt Bronze, an investment vehicle controlled by the army is expected to resume diamond extraction in July this year after being controversially barred from operating in the resource-rich Chiadzwa area in 2016.

Business Times is reliably informed that the decision to award Portal B (rich in resource), which is part of Chiadzwa diamond fields, was communicated through Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando.

In protest to the decision by the Ministry, the ZCDC board members led by chairman Killian Ukama tendered their resignations citing lack of consultation.

They said the unilateral action undermined the authority of the board.

“ZCDC board members resigned recently registering their displeasure over the parcelling out of Portal B in Marange to Chinese Anjin.

The directive is said to have come from President Mnangagwa through Mines Minister Chitando after his trip to China in 2018,” the source said.

The ZCDC board consisted of Ukama (chairman), Ellah Muchemwa, Elizabeth Nerwande Chibanda, Zenzo Nsimbi, Esau Chiadzwa, Alexander Mukwekwezeke and Niya Mtombeni.

Ukama referred all questions to the Mines and Mining Development Ministry.

“I cannot comment on that issue because the appointment of boards is the prerogative of the ministry through the minister,” Ukama said.

Mines and Mining Development minister Winston Chitando told Business Times that the Ministry was currently reviewing board composition in all its parastatals and companies under its wing, adding that a “statement will be issued when the process is complete”.

Asked whether the resignation of the board relates to the awarding of mining concession to the Chinese firm, Chitando said: “There is a section in the mining concession which will be developed with a share scheme involving the Chiadzwa community.

This was approved by Cabinet and announced last year so there is no relationship between the two.”

Business Times is informed that a new interim board for the statediamond miner will be announced soon.

Last year, villagers complained that they have been observing in dismay unregistered diamond mining activities taking place in Chiadzwa by Anjin Diamond Company, particularly in Ward 30.

The affected villages in the Portal Q were Chiadzwa, Mwaora, Makotame, Tinoingana and Vimbai.

The recent resignation of board members comes after they had ordered a probe into the operations of the state-controlled diamond miner as they wanted to ascertain the correct standing of the company.

The state diamond miner has been running under stewardship of Roberto De Pretto in an acting capacity while the board was in the process of searching for a new chief executive.

This came after the diamond producers last year fired seven executives including then CEO Moris Mpofu as it moved to rebuild public and market confidence following allegations of rampant corruption and abuse of office by the executive team.

The debt ridden state controlled enterprise has been haunted by scandals and under-performance ever since its formation leading to perennial loses of more than US$50m in the period between April 2015 and May 2016 alone. According to the AMG Global audit report on the diamond firm, the company has been operating at a loss since its inception in 2015.

At its peak in 2012, Zimbabwe produced 12m carats, but in 2018 production was low as 2.8m carats. Zimbabwe is believed to have the potential to account for 25% of the global diamond production and it is targeting to expand its diamond industry to 10m carats by 2023.

ZCDC was formed in March 2015 after a government decree to consolidate all diamond mining companies in Zimbabwe to form a wholly owned State firm.

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