MUTARE – An organised syndicate involving senior employees of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, state security agents, Zanu (PF) politicians and wealthy buyers are allegedly smuggles thousands of carats of diamonds worth billions of dollars out of Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamond fields on private jets and feeding the thriving international black market through sophisticated means, AfricanVoice Global learnt this week.
While the true extent of theft of diamonds from Marange and the identities of all involved in the looting will probably never be known in the absence of an independent commission of inquiry, however, extensive investigations by this publication have shown that company officials are at the center of a well-orchestrated scheme to siphon gems from the controversial fields for delivery on the international black market for precious stones.
According to our investigations most of the diamonds are being siphoned from Chiadzwa fields as disguised diamond ore robberies. The ‘robbers’ believed to be members of the army take the loot to wealthy international buyers in Mutare, where they are largely smuggled through Mozambique enroute to India and Dubai among Asian countries.
Local Zanu PF politicians have been implicated in the scam and the proceeds are being laundered into offshore accounts.
Only last week, a Security Manager at ZCDC, Benjamin Chinyanga resigned just a day before the commencement of his disciplinary hearing.
The resignation follows a spate of security breaches at the mine.
Chinyanga who is understood to have been on suspension since the 20th of March this year, is said to have tendered his letter on 16 April 2019.
The state-owned company in January fired 80 of its employees, many of them suspected of involvement in diamond ore looting at Chiadzwa.
A breach of security occurred in December 2018 followed by another one in January 2019 with the latest having been recorded in March resulting in the arrest and prosecution of four people who are before the courts.
Police in Mutare are currently investigating a criminal matter in]which five ‘robbers’ allegedly pounced at the Chiadzwa diamond fields a fortnight ago, disarmed a security guard before looting diamond ore.
Manicaland police spokesperson Tavhiringwa Kakohwa has confirmed that five armed robbers stole diamond ore belonging to the ZCDC on February 23, 2019.
The incident comes hardly two months after another group of 10 criminals bulldozed its way into the same diamond fields and looted diamond ore.
The criminals, suspected to be co-ordinated, also rounded up and disarmed unsuspecting ZCDC security guards on duty.
They allegedly assaulted them before force marching one of them to what is known as “the RBZ (Reserve Bank Of Zimbabwe) plant” where the diamond ore was stored.
Kakohwa said a manhunt has been launched for the suspects.
Every Tuesday and Thursday nights private jets of wealthy international buyers are seen in Mutare to pick up diamonds mined from Marange.
The buyers have descended on the Manica town of Mozambique to buy Chiadzwa diamonds. In some cases they have private jets landing in the plush Vumba area in the scenic Eastern parts of Zimbabwe in private homes and lodges.
“Security agents and senior officials from ZCDC are in the looting of the diamonds. Top Zanu PF and government officials are also in the game, that is why you have seen no any meaningful arrest have been done regarding diamond theft,” an insider revealed.
Known CIOs masquerading as employees of ZCDC and members of the military, have become the chief suppliers to the buyers who then smuggle the gems out on their way to international markets.
ZCDC chief executive officer, Morris Mpofu, has claimed that some of his subordinates were working in cahoots with illegal diamond miners to steal the gems from Chiadzwa.
“We are worried with connivance and syndicates within the company. The issue is they are working with illegal buyers. We have within our company, illegal dealers and buyers. This is the reason we constantly look at our security. There are also intrusions in the mining fields,” he said.
Mpofu admitted that there was rampant looting of the precious stones in Chiadzwa.
“We are not in denial about corruption which could be happening internally or externally,” he said.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs minister Ellen Gwaradzimba has called for the arrest of anyone involved in underhand diamond dealings.
“I am saddened with what I hear about corruption. We can’t afford to ignore that, we cannot. I am keen to know who is doing that and the time is up for those who are doing that. We don’t tolerate corruption in this new dispensation,” she said.
Outspoken Chairperson Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Mines and Energy Themba Mliswa has described the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando as a thief and corrupt minister who was behind the looting of diamonds in Chiadzwa.
In an interview on the sidelines of an emotionally charged Manicaland Diamond Mining Indaba organised by the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) held recently, Mliswa said Chitando was the most corrupt minister in the Zimbabwe government.
“When I heard that Chitando was going to be the mining minister I was very excited because I thought he had all the required experience and knowhow in the mining background, I was very saddened to later note that he is a chartered accountant. What do the chartered accountants do? They steal,” explained Mliswa.
“Chitando is a thief. He is very corrupt. Many people think (Obert)Mpofu was corrupt, then Chitando is worse,” he said.
Former Mines Minister Mpofu has been accused of going on a buying spree, purchasing real estate and housing properties mainly in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria falls. This invited suspicions from the public and members of a parliamentary portfolio committee.
A document listing Mpofus properties shows that he bought a supermarket in Victoria Falls Chinotimba high density suburb, three houses in a medium-density area, two cruise boats on the Zambezi, five houses in Mkhosana high density suburb, three houses in Chinotimba, two industrial stands, one large stand in Chisuma, one big industrial stand next to Chinotimba stadium, four industrial stands on the Airport road, and four medium density plots.
Mpofu reportedly bought all these properties for cash.
He has, however, denied he was using diamonds proceeds to buy personal properties. He said he got a US$1 million loan from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe through his company Trebo and Khays Pvt Ltd.
Mliswa said the Supreme Court has ruled that ZCDC is an illegal entity and should stop mining at Chiadzwa diamond fields.
“But Chitando is misleading the President. There is a lot of rot and corruption going on in the mining sector. Why is it that the country is always signing deals everywhere by ceding diamonds. It is because Chitando wants to steal?” he asked.
He said Chitando’s corrupt behaviour was not in the spirit of the new dispensation.
The Supreme Court gave an order in 2016 that compelled the ZCDC to stop mining in Chiadzwa, as it had not followed the correct processes.