Ray Bande Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has suspended 40 employees in an intense crackdown meant to halt rampant diamond theft at Chiadzwa, The Manica Post can reveal.
Employees from different departments who were allegedly working in connivance were implicated in diamond theft which was exposed following the radical implementation of tight diamond security mechanisms.
The tight security measures were mooted at diamond security stakeholder meetings involving the country’s uniformed forces and the President’s Office.
ZCDC public relations executive Mr Sugar Chagonda confirmed the suspension of the 40 employees implicated in the diamond leakage scam.
Mr Chagonda said the suspended employees were working in cahoots with illegal miners operating in the Chiadzwa area and some illegal diamond buyers, in siphoning the precious gems.
“Yes, it is true that we have suspended more than 40 employees in connection with cases of theft of diamonds. This is a result of the diamond security stakeholder meetings we are having that involve uniformed forces as well as the President’s Office.
“As part of the implementation of the recommendations made at the diamond security stakeholder meetings, we managed to unearth the rampant theft of diamonds hence the suspension of employees implicated in the scam.
“We discovered that employees were working in cahoots with artisanal miners operating illegally in Chiadzwa as well as diamond buyers in siphoning the mineral,” said Mr Chagonda. He said ZCDC was taking the issue of diamond leakage seriously.
“We are really serious about the clampdown on diamond leakage. We surely cannot tolerate a situation where the nation is prejudiced of revenue by some unscrupulous elements in our midst,” he said.
Recently, 10 criminals allegedly bulldozed their way into the Chiadzwa diamond fields and looted two dump trucks of diamond ore before vanishing into the darkness.
The criminals, suspected to be highly trained and co-ordinated, allegedly 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 plant” where the diamond ore was stored.
The clampdown on diamond leakage at ZCDC comes on the heels of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit to the mining concern last month where he warned corrupt elements in the sector that they have no room in the Second Republic.
“Transparency, accountability, honesty and integrity are indispensable values for stakeholders in the diamond sector. I am fully aware of the immense susceptibility to theft and corruption by those in the industry. The Second Republic will not broker or condone any acts of corruption or misappropriation of resources that should benefit all the people of our country. We are wiser now and perpetrators will be dealt with severely,” said President Mnangagwa.
The clampdown on mineral leakage will go a long way in helping ZCDC attain its goal to produce 4.1 million carats in 2019. ZCDC produced 2.8 million carats in 2018.
Notwithstanding the environmental challenges that affected the mining sector in the last quarter of 2018, chief among them fuel shortages, limited foreign currency and exchange rate induced inflation, ZCDC managed to surpass its set target of 2.4 million carats with output of 2.8 million carats.
ZCDC chief executive Dr Morris Mpofu recently told the media that the company’s transition from alluvial to conglomerate mining, on the back of investments in new machinery, has also seen projections for output this year being reviewed to 4.1 million carats.
“There is that need to review the growth prospects of the sector to unlock more value in the exploration and beneficiation process so we anticipate a rise in overall output,” said Dr Mpofu.
He said the company is now set to contribute to national growth and recovery through foreign currency generation, employment creation and contribution to the fiscus.
“We hope that the success we have achieved now is what we want and the future is all about economic growth prospects for the nation,” added Dr Mpofu.
ZCDC resumed diamond sales in 2018 and has so far invoiced over US$49 million from diamond tenders held in last quarter of 2018.
It is also expected to continue conducting periodic diamond tenders in 2019 to sell both its current production and the accumulated stocks.