MUGABE GOVT GRABBED MINE MAFIA STYLE : RUSSIAN INVESTOR
Former President Robert Mugabe’s government in 2016 took over a Russian gold and diamond mine in a mafia style with 80 heavily-armed police officers sent to forcibly remove workers, Parliament was told yesterday.
DTZ Ozgeo managing director Victor Kusyla Kusyla yesterday told the Temba Mliswa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines that former Mines minister Walter Chidakwa and his then secretary, Francis Gudyanga, invited the company to Harare to discuss the consolidation of diamond mines.
He said while Chidakwa had invited the company management to Harare, the minister sent 80 armed police officers to forcibly take over their mine in Chimanimani. Kusyla said the company had invested millions of dollars in exploration of gold and diamonds, as well as in machinery and setting up of a processing plant.
“We were invited by Gudyanga and Chidakwa to a meeting of all diamond producers, where an announcement was made that we must cease operations,” Kusyla said.
“Within a few minutes when I telephoned one of my managers at the mine he told us that already about 80 heavily-armed policemen were at the mine forcing everyone to pack their belongings and leave.”
Kusyla said there was no proper handover and takeover and everyone was told to leave abruptly, resulting in DTZ Ozgeo leaving equipment, thousands of litres of diesel, fero silicone for processing gold, and the equipment is now being used by ZCDC.
DTZ Ozgeo public relations executive Clara Ngwenya said the company during the time it was mining, contributed $6,8 million in royalties, paid $463 000 to the National Social Security Authority, and $1,5 million mining fees and levies, suggesting they could have supported government coffers, if they were allowed to continue mining.
DTZ was 60% Russian-owned and 40% Zimbabwean.
Kwekwe Central MP Masango Matambanadzo (Zanu PF) tried to divert attention alleging the government had forcibly taken over DTZ Ozgeo because they were not paying royalties. But Mliswa said the company had volunteered to table a document on how they handled their sales.
“After our closure, I went to our Russian Embassy and they had a meeting with Mugabe, former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko and Chidakwa and they promised an amicable solution. For the past two years we felt like we were just being whipped. However, now with the new dispensation I think the attitude towards investors has changed,” said Kusyla through an interpreter.
MPs expressed anger that government left the company’s workers stranded, and sent police to take over without a court order.