Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Women, war vets battle for diamonds

The claim, according to a mining expert who talked to The Zimbabwean, is rich in gems of jewellery quality estimated to go 70 metres deep.

The Zanu (PF) Provincial Women’s League has laid claim to the underground diamond deposits in this Midlands farming area close to Gweru, putting itself at loggerheads with a group of war veterans aligned to the party. The women are being fronted by a commercial pressure group, Women in Mining Zimbabwe, which has the support of the party’s provincial chairperson, Jason Machaya, who is also the Provincial Governor and Resident Minister.
According to sources, the women’s league in the Midlands province recently set a fence around the claim - but the war veterans countered by delimiting a bigger area with another fence. This sparked anger in the league which, reportedly, recently staged a demonstration against the war veterans.
Tsitsi Muzenda, the daughter of the late Vice President and deputy to President Robert Mugabe in Zanu (PF), Simon Muzenda, played an important role in the Women’s League being allotted the claim by Machaya.
She admitted her involvement in the scheme, but told The Zimbabwean:
“I only sought to help and facilitate the acquisition of the diamond claim, but am not active in that.” She acknowledged that Angelina, the widow of Josiah Tongogara, former leader of Zanla, Zanu (PF)’s military wing during the war of liberation, was part of the women’s group fighting for control of the mine.
Angelina, who hails from the province, was reported to be living in poverty after the party neglected her. But she would not give substantive comments regarding her involvement. When contacted for comment she said she was busy at a memorial service “but we can always talk some other time”.
The war veterans are led by the association’s Midlands Chairperson, Tozivanashe Shumba, who is insisting that his members are the rightful owners of the claim. “We have the papers (to demonstrate that we are the rightful owners. I was shocked to see and hear that the Women’s League wants to operate on our claim. Why do they want to disturb us?” he said. Neither of the warring parties has started mining because of lack of equipment.
The Zanu (PF) dispute, sources said, is a reflection of the deep-seated factionalism within the party. The Women’s League is reported to be supported by Machaya, who in turn is said to belong to a faction led by Vice President Joyce Mujuru.
The war veterans, on the other hand, are reportedly on the side of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the party’s Legal Secretary and Defence Minister.
Even the before this latest battle, the diamond claim was the stage for a protracted dispute between a private company fronted by the party’s supporters and a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe special purpose vehicle set up by Gideon Gono during the period when the central bank dabbled in quasi-fiscal activities.
According to a High Court judgment given in March last year in Bulawayo, the claim is situated on Kleimport Farm previously owned by one Magiel Casper Jovner, a white Zimbabwean by birth. But this is now state land, having been gazetted for compulsory acquisition by the government.
The RBZ subsidiary, Carslone Enterprises Private Limited, assumed mining activities on the farm after it was taken from Jovner, but in 2010, another company, Shuma Mining Syndicate, took the matter to the High Court seeking to assume ownership.
It argued that Carslone, which had been mining the diamonds since 2008, was winding up business after a stop to RBZ’s quasi-fiscal tenure, but the High Court ruled in favour of the central bank’s subsidiary to remain put, even though it acknowledged that the company’s ownership of the claim was in dispute.
Shuma also claimed that it had been granted mining rights by Machaya, a position that sources say still stands, meaning that the Women’s League is supposed to be jointly exploiting the diamonds.
Shuma demonstrated in court that it had entered into an agreement to take over the mine with Jovner.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.