MINES and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has revealed that he was approached by private sector players, including mining companies, offering him bribes to facilitate deals.
BY DALPHINE TAGWIREYI
Eight weeks after assuming the powerful position, the minister revealed that corruption was rife in the sector and, in the short space of time he had been in office, some corrupt elements had already approached him seeking to grease his palms.
He would not reveal their identity only preferring to say: “I can’t tell you what transpired but what I can tell you is that the private sector approaches many people.
“The issue of corruption should not be viewed only from the recipient of the bribe, it must also be seen from the perspective of the giver as they are both corrupt, but I was approached.”
Chidhakwa said this on the sidelines of a Netherlands embassy-organised roundtable discussion on natural resources on Wednesday.
When pressed to reveal the identity of the culprits that had dangled bribes to him, Chidhakwa said he was not at liberty to discuss with the media what had transpired between him and the “corrupt mining companies.”
The revelations by Chidhakwa lend credence to allegations by President Robert Mugabe and civil society organisations that corruption especially in the awarding of contracts was rife in the mining sector.
In September, President Mugabe made sensational claims that former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) board chairman Godwills Masimirembwa had demanded a US$6 million bribe from a Ghanaian investor.
The investor, William Ato Essien, is in a joint venture with ZMDC and police in Gye Nyame Resources, a diamond producer in Marange. No action has been taken against Masimirembwa.
Civil society organisation say the awarding of mining contracts in Marange diamond fields was shrouded in mystery amid fears that chefs were benefitting from the diamonds.
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti complained that diamond revenue was not reaching Treasury despite producers selling the gems.
In a pre-budget seminar recently, it was revealed that out of a targeted US$40 million expected from diamond sales, nothing had been received as at September 2013.
Chidhakwa said President Mugabe told him he had a tough task ahead in his new job as Mines minister.
“His Excellency told me that there is a task ahead to ensure that things are done in a certain manner that requires me to stand firm and every task has its own uphills and I should also live up to the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe,” he said.
In a bid to promote transparency, Chidhakwa said the ministry would engage small-scale miners as part of the initiative so that their interactions could yield meaningful developments.
“We proposed to them that they should come up with an umbrella union so that we engage in dialogue with their official representatives who will then pass on the information to the grassroots, rather than have different small groups dialoguing with us and yet passing on the same information,” he said.