Gone Forever: Diamonds worth US$10 million DISAPPEAR in Zimbabwe #ItsNotSanctions

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About 10 000 carats of gem diamonds with an estimated value of US$10m have disappeared at Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) 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, Business Times has learnt.

Lack of transparency in the multi-billion diamond industry forced government to amalgamate diamond operations in Chiadzwa and Chimanimani in 2016.

According to a 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 has since been 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.

“1n 2016, 25 students were sent to China for training in diamond cutting and polishing. From that period on, 10 000 carats of gem diamonds were shipped out to China ostensibly for the purpose of training the students,” reads the report in part.

“It is implausible that gem diamonds were required and indeed used for training purposes. The issue stated together with other irregularities was referred to the current ZCDC board but no action was taken to investigate or rectify these anomalies.”

Head of Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President, Thabani Mpofu confirmed receiving the report on the leakages.

“Yes I can confirm we received the report detailing corruption allegations at ZCDC but I have since forwarded it to the relevant authorities,” Mpofu said.

ZCDC chairman Killian Ukama said the current board had not received such a report and could have followed up on the matter if it had been brought to their attention.

“As you might be aware, we were appointed in June 2018 and that matter has not been brought to our attention. Certainly as a board we would have followed up on the matter,” Ukama said.

The report further states that there is possible prejudice of around US$19m on part payment on assets and equipment that were never delivered to ZCDC.

“There are some assets and equipment where part payments were made no delivery of the assets and equipment was made to ZCDC despite part payments being made towards their purchase and the amount involved in the scenario is US$19m.”

The report also notes that an amount of US$80m was disbursed to ZCDC as recapitalisation but there was massive abuse of the funds which saw US$5m being unaccounted for.

“An amount of US$80m was disbursed to ZCDC from Treasury towards the company’s recapitalisation. An audit of the use of these funds found that US$5m could not be accounted for,” the report stated.

ZCDC is ridding itself of controversy which has followed the companies since the amalgamation of diamond producers.

Early this year, the diamond producer fired seven executives including CEO Moris Mpofu in line with the “need to rebuild public confidence” in the diamond producer.

In a bid to curb leakages, ZCDC has since assigned two top security forces to head its security operations following a spate of criminal activities at the state-owned firm.

The two appointed are top police chief Charles Mvere and a top military chief only mentioned as Manyau. The two have vast experience in security issues. Business Times is informed that the two were appointed on secondment basis.

Meanwhile, U.S. Embassy in Harare tweeted, “Diamonds worth US$10 million would fund water treatment chemicals for Harare for 4 months that Zimbabweans desperately need. But they were shipped out of the country for “training purposes” & never reached the intended destination. #ItsNotSanctions”

https://twitter.com/usembassyharare/status/1187730945312481284?s=20

— BusinessTimes


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