ZCDC Operations, Ownership Remain Unclear: Maguwu

MUTARE– A leading human rights activist has described Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company as a criminal entity, saying the recent firing of top executives was a realignment exercise meant to appease the ‘new dispensation’.

By Donald Nyarota

Centre for Natural Resource Governance director Farai Maguwu said ZCDC was formed under political influence of Grace Mugabe and the recent managerial shake up would not ‘rebuild public and market confidence’ as intended.

Maguwu said ZCDC was fraudulently registered without consent of Parliament and operated under opaque conditions with no traceable financial records, as well as unclear ownership and equity.

“This will not change anything. This is the most criminal company in Zimbabwe whose real owners and beneficiaries remain in secret. The fired seven could have benefited from corruption but I prefer to see this as realigning the company with the ‘new dispensation’.

“ZCDC was formed under the influence of Grace Mugabe who appointed her loyalists to the executive. It was a looting vehicle of G40 and now, for those who replaced them,” he said.

“It has not published a single audited financial statement since its inception in 2016 and has not published its financial statements and balance sheet. Its registration was fraudulent, parliament condemned it and its operations remain opaque.”

Zimbabwe Diamond Workers Union Secretary General Justice Chinhema scoffed at the terminations of contracts saying such quasi approach would not bring sanity to the diamond sector bridled by corruption and lack of accountability.

Chinhema said the workers have been operating under harsh conditions without proper trade union representation in contravention of provisions of legal laws in the country.

He said the fired top executives failed to transform working conditions at the gem company calling for ZCDC to operate independently.

“What we are seeing there is not surprising because there have been gross violations of human rights since ZCDC was formed. In fact there has been no transformation from the previous regime of multi companies it is actually getting worse.

“Shocking incidents of abuse happened under their watch and they did not allow workers to be represented by trade unions, we are not allowed to even go on the ground to assess working conditions,” said Chinhema.

“The diamond sector needs to be removed from the army, this militarization of the diamond sector is the main problem and those who are given positions will keep following the command structure.”

ZCDC recently released a press statement notifying of termination of these seven top executives’ contracts of employment, including chief executive officer Morris Mpofu as part of a confidence rebuilding exercise that the entity is currently embarking on.

Current chief operating officer (COO) Roberto De Pretto will assume, with immediate effect, roles of the CEO in an acting capacity until further notice read part of the statement.

“In line with the operating environment and the need to rebuild public and market confidence the (ZCDC) board has resolved to make changes to management.

“The Board has terminated contract of employment for seven executives as follows chief executive officer, chief finance officer, supply chain executive, chief human resources executive, chief security officer, engineering executive and audit executive.

ZCDC also announced that it was embarking on a confidence rebuilding exercise ‘to strengthen its systems and processes for business continuity and realization of its vision to becoming a world class diamond producer.