Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG) director, Farai Maguwu said the Zanu PF government created chaos in Marange by allowing clueless army generals to leave their barracks and pose as diamond miners in the region.
Maguwu was speaking at a recent meeting in Mutare which discussed the proposal by government to merge the disparate companies mining diamonds at Marange into one firm.
The Zanu PF administration, struggling for money, has been forced to merge the companies which lack the expertise and resources to extract gems from hard rock deep underground after the easy-to-pick alluvial deposits ran out.
“Kimberlitic is found in conglomerates and you cannot mine them with hoe,” said Maguwu.
“The Kimberlitic needs real miners who stand up to be counted. We don`t have such miners in Marange. All the (current) miners must be chased away before we talk of any merger.”
The Marange diamonds attracted global attention and criticism for the government after the army was unleashed to force out artisanal miners who had descended on the area in their thousands.
Authorities later moved to formalise activities in the area, allowing about six companies to operate there with the government taking up a 50 percent interest in the firms.
But former finance minister Tendai Biti, now a key opposition figure, said the national treasury never realised any meaningful returns from the supposed gem riches at Marange, adding that the money was being diverted from government.
Maguwu said there was mayhem in the area.
“It’s survival of the fittest, it’s an animal kingdom. Something to do with powerful people who can push people out and say this is mine. That’s the only way you can get a concession in Marange,” said the activist.
“(Mines) Minister Chidhakwa has no muscle whatsoever to tell the army generals that you have looted enough. Would he survive?
“Would he be able to go back to his wife and children? If he cannot stop the generals then this merger issue will suffer still birth.”
Local mining experts have been forced out of the country by the generals, said Maguwu who was once arrested for being vocal about human rights violations in the region.
“If you go around the region you will find mining experts from Zimbabwe running mines in Botswana, Tanzania, Congo, Lesotho and South Africa. We don’t come second to any country in the region in terms of mining expertise.
“(But) those with the expertise could not help our country because they were not given opportunity to do so; hence they moved to other countries in the region.”
Chinese criminal gangs
Maguwu said companies in Marange have been patronized by Chinese criminals who are also involved in diamond dealings with Angolan army generals.
“Some of these criminals are the ones who gave Central Intelligence Operatives (CIO) luxury vehicles in exchange for diamonds. The story of Marange is corruption from beginning to end,” he said.
The proposed merger of companies in Marange was not in the interest of ordinary Zimbabweans but the ruling elite and their cronies in the security services.
“When we talk of the merger, is it a business idea or national agenda?
“My understanding is that this merger was necessitated by circumstances’ because alluvial diamonds are fast running out and companies in Marange are shelf companies.
“They have no track record in mining because they are not miners and they have not invested in anything.”
He added: “The miners can no longer sustain themselves.
“That’s why government is trying to merge these companies in anticipation of getting a little more revenue. This is purely business for the elite and has nothing to do with the people of Marange or Zimbabwe.
“The Marange deal is about who is who in the ruling circles and powerful military generals. That is the reason why two finance ministers one from the dying opposition and one from decaying ruling party sang from the same hymn book.”
Zimbabwe, said the activist, needs visionary leadership like Seretse Khama of Botswana whose diamond mining model has won global praise.
“We should wait for visionary leadership like Seretse Khama of Botswana. Other countries have minerals but they wait until the right time comes and look for market volatility,” said Maguwu.
“No one can stop our leadership appetite for wealth. Let`s lock the diamonds in the ground until such a time that we have a visionary leadership with a national agenda who loves the country.
“We have greedy leaders who negotiate on their personal behalf not the country.”