Paul Nyathi|Government claims that it has mysteriously managed to establish what really happened to a loot of 10 000 carats of diamonds which disappeared in 2016 in the hands of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Company, ZCDC.
According to the company the gems were actually sold in a transaction “that was above board” raising eye brows how it would take over three years to realise the transaction.
About 10 000 carats of gem diamonds with an estimated value of US$10m disappeared at ZCDC in 2016 after the precious stones were reportedly shipped out of the country
to China under the pretext that they were for educational use by students in the Asian country.
According to an initial report compiled by a former ZCDC senior executive titled,
“Corruption at ZCDC”, the diamonds were shipped to China for training of students. The diamond cutting and polishing students were supposed to use those gems for practical purposes but according to the report which was submitted to Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President, the diamonds never reached the intended destination.
The training was being done by Zheng Jingyi Vocational Technology School while the students were drawn from all the 10 provinces in the country.
The issue stated together with other irregularities was referred to the then ZCDC board but no action was taken to investigate or rectify the anomalies.
A ZCDC internal audit memo dated October 16 2019 has suddenly surfaced claiming that the diamonds were sold to Harvest Way Enterprises Limited — a Hong Kong company — to facilitate training of students in the beneficiation of diamonds.
“Inquiries made with the finance and marketing personnel indicate that two batches of approximately 10 000 carats were sold to Harvest Way Enterprises Limited in 2016 and these were all paid for,” reads the internal memo.
“Diamonds were then sold to Harvest Way at reduced prices; that is, royalties of 15 percent and the MMCZ commission of 0,875 percent were exempted,” it adds.
The exemptions, which covered a three-year period, were apparently approved by former Mines and Mining Development Permanent Secretary, Professor Francis Gudyanga, on January 8 2016 in a letter that was addressed to then ZCDC acting chief executive officer, Mr Mark Mabhudhu.
The case has attracted the interest of the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet (Sacu) and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc), which separately confirmed that they were looking into the transaction.
Sacu chair, Mr Tabani Mpofu said his office compiled a report that has been forwarded to Zacc.
Zacc chair Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo confirmed receiving the report, which is presently being perused by investigators.
Stakeholders in the diamond industry, however, are worried that there seem to be contrived news stories calculated to besmirch the image of the local diamond industry ahead of the plenary meeting of the Kimberley Process in New Dehli, India, from November 18 to November 22.
On May 16 this year, the ZCDC board fired chief executive officer Dr Morris Mpofu and six top executives — chief finance officer Mr Charles Gambe, supply chain executive Dr Newton Demba, chief human resources executive Mrs Masciline Chikoore, engineering executive Engineer Andrew Murwisi, audit executive Dr Cleopatra Mutisi and chief security officer Clemence Munoriarwa.
It is now under the management of acting CEO Mr Roberto de Pretto.
ZCDC said in a statement released to The Sunday Mail, the company remains compliant with the Kimberly Process and continues to invest in its security system.
“For the first time in the company’s history ZCDC has published all its audited accounts since formation in 2016,” read part of the statement.
“Production has also continued to grow from one million carats in 2016 to a projected three million in 2019. Contrary to some media reports, the company does not use forced labour within its operations. Not only is this in conflict with stated corporate governance rules and values, but it is also against the laws of the country. The recruitment practices are stringent and abide with best professional standards that compare to any diamond operation around the world.”
ZCDC is reportedly investing into latest surveillance technologies such as drones that are backed up by rapid response teams.
“At present, huge investments are being made to strengthen both electronic surveillance as well as access control of ZCDC premises.
“The annual Diamond Stakeholder Indaba has also been useful in strengthening relations with various civic society bodies and other stakeholders,” it said.