Minister pledges mining licences to security forces

 

ZIMBABWE’S MINING minister Obert Mpofu has publicly promised the country’s security forces he will give them gold, diamond and platinum mines if they apply to his ministry for the relevant licences.

Addressing dignitaries and guests at the Zimbabwe prison service’s graduation parade over the weekend, Mr Mpofu said the security forces would be catered for because they had helped government to secure the country’s mineral resources in the past.

“I want to make it clear that if Zimbabwe Prison Services applies for a mining concession, I will give them anytime,” Mr Mpofu said before adding, “That applies to the police, the army and the air force.

“These are the people who are protecting our resources. They are the people who made it possible to repossess what the colonisers took away from us.”

Mr Mpofu, a senior member of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, made his statement shortly after local media revealed the police force had been granted a diamond mine concession in the controversial Marange fields in the country’s east.

The Zanu-PF party has repeatedly been accused of siphoning off the profits from the sale of diamonds found in the Marange fields since the government took control of the fields in 2008, rather than allowing the money flow into government coffers.

Rights organisations have accused the former liberation movement of putting members of the military loyal to the president at the helm of the mining operations to facilitate their fraud.

Zanu-PF critics warn that profits from the gem sales will be used by the party to fund its efforts to win the next general election. This is expected within 12 months to end the stalled powersharing arrangement between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change.

Recently deputy mines minister Gift Chimanikire confirmed an army-owned company, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, has a 40 per cent stake in the Anjin mine in Marange, one of the most lucrative in the country.

Meanwhile, the government’s indigenisation policy has moved on to the country’s banking sector after most foreign-owned mines, including operations owned by Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum, ceded a controlling stake in their operations to black Zimbabweans.

According to a government notice posted last week, foreign-owned banks are firmly in the government’s sights, and have been given one year to hand over 51 per cent stakes to locals. Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank and South Africa’s Standard Bank and Nedbank are the foreign banks in Zimbabwe that would be affected by the latest regulations.