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‘Corruption rampant in mines ministry’

MINES secretary Welcome Musukutwa has proposed restructuring the ministry citing bungling of claims allocations, corruption and general incompetence on the part of mining commissioners and other key staff.

According to Musukutwa’s confidential report done in October 2009, mining companies are at each others’ throats over claims in mining provinces in the country after mining commissioners allocated the same claims to more than one company.

He claims confidential information has been leaked to the market and the media by the mining affairs board members.

But his plan to restructure the ministry is facing an uphill task after it emerged that 11 officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) have been tipped for top positions in the ministry.

Musukutwa is a former central bank official. He was appointed to the position last year. Public Service Commission (PSC) chairman Mariyawanda Nzuwah has already given the nod to Musukutwa’s appointments of RBZ staff.

Musukutwa alleges the current director of mining promotion and development Titus Nyatsanga is “computer illiterate” and takes “ages” to complete assignments.

He says the chief mining commissioner Fredson Mabhena’s division is “rife with allegations of corruption”.

“The incumbent commissioners are insubordinate having taken the minister and permanent secretary to court over issues of transfers,” wrote Musukutwa in his restructuring report. “The incumbent chief mining commissioner has not raised a finger to institute disciplinary measures to his wayward commissioners hence allegations of him being involved in some corrupt deals in his division. The division has fallen apart and it seriously needs recapitalision by engaging honest and hard working staff.”

He recommended that the chief mining commissioner be moved “possibly to the Attorney-General’s office”.

On the position of the Geological Survey department, Musukutwa says the incumbent head of the department was “not meeting the demands of his position”.

He proposed that the director be sent to Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) for “a less challenging position”.

The government official argues that there should be an end to “air pegging” where peggers “mill outside commissioners’ offices and plot claims on maps without going to the field”.

His report reads: “Mining commissioners are also turning a blind eye to unlawful mining activities which they are allowing to continue within their districts unreported and un-investigated.”

But Masukutwa concedes that it is not going to be easy to get the officials to play by the book owing to labour laws, the Mines and Minerals Act and the (PSC). He says the PSC disciplinary procedures were “lengthy and cumbersome to effect”.

Claim disputes are soaring, according to Musukutwa.

“During my short tenure as secretary for mines and mining development, I have witnesses an unprecedented number of mining disputes in all the five mining districts of the country.

Most of the disputes relate to over-pegging problems where more than one person  or company are registered to mine the same location or alleged connivance between ministry officials and unscrupulous miners and farmers… It is not clear whether these disputes are genuine mistakes or oversights by ministry officials or deliberate,” he says in the report.

Mining commissioner Bill Manage was transferred last year from Kadoka to Beltway but refused to move. He is suing Mines minister Obert Mpofu for US$30 000 for attempting to transfer him.

Another commissioner, Federal Dube, was transferred to Masvingo from Gweru but refused to move. He has also taken Musukutwa, the ministry and PSC to court arguing Mpofu and Musukutwa did not have authority to transfer him, while Florence Thusi declined to be transferred from Bulawayo. “She has stayed in the Bulawayo office for 19 years and cannot be moved.”

Manyange presides over three “major disputes” in Kadoma that were reported a few weeks after Musukutwa came into office. Musukutwa anticipated the number of disputes would escalate.

In one of the disputes, RioZim Ltd is fighting over prospecting special grants issued in 2006 with Umzingwane Mining.

After converting the special grant to mine gold, Manyange refused to approve the application opting for Umzingwane Mining and Vulcan Mining.

Isaac Ruswa, a former assistant mining commissioner in Mutare, presides over what Masukutwa described as “the worst dispute perhaps in recent history of the Ministry of Mines — the famous Marange/Chiadzwa/ African Consolidated Resources (ACR) dispute”.

Musukutwa claims Ruswa, who is now “helping” in the Mining Promotion Department, filed opposing affidavits that have weakened “the strength of the  (government) case against ACR”.

His report reads: “All the respondents defended the matter but Ruswa refused to depose an affidavit in line with his employer. Instead, he deposed to an affidavit in support of ACR and stealthily filed separately with the Attorney-General without the ministry’s knowledge.”

An R Mutikizizi, acting commissioner Masvingo, has had his fair share of scandals.

“Unfortunately the period of his acting has been littered with disputes in the district,” Masukutwa says.

A P Shumba, who is a mining commissioner in Harare, has four disputes to his name.

In another dispute, Musukutwa says that a Mhangura family discovered gold deposits and hired an excavator from Air Commodore Zimondi and a compressor from a contractor identified as Godknows.

Godknows realised the family that had contracted him did not have registration and sought registration for the same claim.

According to Musukutwa, this resulted in “a heated dispute”.

An L Chimsasa, mining commissioner at the head office, is accused of a number of cases of “serious conflict and improper conduct”.

Owing to the above misdemeanours, Musukutwa proposed that Muvengwa Zinyuku be appointed to the position of principal director. Zinyuku is general manager of Tuli Coal.

But sources in the ministry say Masukutwa is rooting out old officials in favour of his former RBZ colleagues.

 

Chris Muronzi

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