Monday, November 19, 2012

'No Corruption in Zimbabwe Diamond Fields'

'No corruption in Zim diamond fields'

Sunday, 18 November 2012 00:00
Lawson Mabhena in Bulawayo
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

A report released in London by Partnership Africa Canada (Pac) on alleged corruption in the Marange diamond fields is full of falsehoods meant to shift attention from the inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference, investigations have revealed.

On Monday last week, the very day the diamond conference began, Pac released a report claiming that Zimbabwe Government officials, including Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, were looting diamonds in Marange.

Interestingly, although Pac masquerades as a non-governmental organisation working towards strengthening respect for human rights and preventing conflict related to natural resource exploitation, it is in fact wholly funded by Western governments that have always been against the sale of Zimbabwean diamonds.

During his presentation on the overview of rough diamond production at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference in Victoria Falls, Mr Chaim Even-Zohar, an Israeli gem analyst who is also president of Tacy Ltd, exposed Pac's true parentage.

He said the Western-sponsored organisation had a US$1,2 million budget, 96 percent of which is funded by Canada, the United States and other Western members of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme. Mr Even-Zohar said it was unsettling that the same Western governments which imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe were bankrolling megaphones masquerading as non-governmental organisations.

The Pac report, titled "Zimbabwe: Reap What You Sow — Greed and Corruption in Marange Diamond Fields", lists an array of properties allegedly belonging to Dr Mpofu, which the organisation claims he procured during his tenure as the Minister of Mines and Mining Development. Properties listed in the report include seven farms, "which make him the second largest landowner in Matabeleland North after the Oppenheimer family" and a number of buildings in the city centre and in residential areas.

The report further claims that Dr Mpofu spent a whopping US$20 million in cash over the past three years and US$500 000 on donations in 2012 alone.

Dr Mpofu was not reachable for comment.
An official from his investment vehicle, Trebo and Khays, refused to comment, saying: "Nonsense! We don't want to authenticate rubbish."

However, investigations reveal that the minister only has one farm in the Gwayi wildlife conservancy area and a homestead in Nyamandlovu.

Most of the properties the report alleges that Dr Mpofu bought recently were, in fact, secured well before he became mines minister and long before diamonds were mined in Marange.

"While Minister Mpofu is not the only Zanu-PF official benefitting from Marange's riches, his role as the chief guardian of Marange raises the most concern.

"His unexplained wealth is emblematic of wider problems of revenue transparency associated with this promising national resource. Pac has identified expenditures of over US$20 million — mostly in cash — made by Minister Mpofu over the last three years.

"This figure is a conservative assessment and does not include his philanthropy, which exceeded US$500 000 in 2012 alone," claimed the Pac report. Minister Mpofu's confirmed landholdings also place him in the top five landowners in the country, and second in his home province of Matabeleland only to the Oppenheimer family," added the report.

"A diamond trading company, Three Waters Investments, operates from one of Minister Mpofu's Bulawayo properties at 10 Livingstone Road.

"This raises a perception — real or perceived —that a company, and possibly individuals, associated with the minister are obtaining a pecuniary benefit from an industry over which Mpofu has fiduciary responsibility.

"It also raises questions about what role he personally played in procuring diamonds for this company and facilitating their export."

The report also lists the following properties, which this writer investigated:

Umguza Block, 10 060 hectares, formerly owned by Cold Storage Commission (CSC) specifically known as blocks 39, 40 and 41: Documents at hand prove that the farm is, in fact, Auchenburg blocks 3A, 3B, 6, 6A, 7A, 7B measuring 4 214 ha and is owned by the CSC which is leasing it to the minister for US$5 028 in an agreement that was signed by CSC chief executive officer Mr Ngoni Chinogaramombe.

1 027ha Auchenburg Farm, Nyamandlovu:

This is actually a piece of land that was bought by prominent businessman Mr Golden Ndlovu for Z$80 million in 2001.

Green Haven Farm located close to Umguza River:

This is not a farm but a business centre which Dr Mpofu bought in 1987 and sold to another businessman in 1995. It has since been sold to the Marima family.

3 700ha Umguza CSC Block and Young Farm Nyamandlovu: This is a repetition of Auchenburg Farm which is generally referred to as "koYoung" as it was once owned by a Mr Young.

8 000ha Horseshoe Ranch in Matetsi:

This is a 4 000ha conservancy which Dr Mpofu acquired through the land reform programme in 2000.

100ha in Epping Forest B Section known as Mswelangubo Farm: This is an inaccurate repetition of Auchenburg Farm which is now known as Mswelangubo Farm.

Winter Block 4 000ha:

yet another repetition of Auchenburg.

Anchor House, 12th Avenue and Fort Street, costing between US$1 million and $2 million in Bulawayo's depressed market: This building is actually owned by the Zimbabwe Open University which is operating from the premises. The university bought the building in 2011 from Fort Investments for US$850 000.

A dilapidated two-storey office block at the corner of Fife Street and Fourth Avenue:

Dr Mpofu bought the building in question in 1996. Bought York House for a song in 2007 during an economic depression: Dr Mpofu bought York House through a mortgage facility in 1998. He made his last payment in 2002.

A house in Magpie Road in Bulawayo:

This is Dr Mpofu's residence which he bought in 1994.

Livingstone Road offices:

Dr Mpofu bought these premises from a Martha Mtisi in 2004. Volvo trucks which retail at US$100 000: These are recently acquired trucks that were manufactured in 2004 and are selling at around US$10 000 in the United Kingdom.

Delegates at the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference dismissed the Pac report, which they said was meant to stifle efforts by Mr Eli Izhakoff, president of the World Diamond Council, to engage the United States Treasury and the European Union to lift sanctions on diamonds from Zimbabwe.

The outgoing chairperson of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic of the US, reaffirmed that Zimbabwe is fully KP-compliant, although she indicated that she was powerless to compel Washington to lift the sanctions.

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