The Chiadzwa Gang: Shady individuals and fugitives

chiadzwaIn July 2009, the Ministry of Mines accepted expressions of interest from companies willing to enter into joint ventures agreements to mine in Marange.

The process was undertaken under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), a parastatal under the control of the Ministry.

While the move was initially billed by Minister Obert Mpofu as evidence of Zimbabwes efforts to fix concerns raised by the KP review mission, the real motivation was entirely different: the ZMDC lacked the hard currency needed to go it alone.

Unsuccessful attempts to finance operations between 2006 and 2008 had already forced the ZMDC to divert $12 million in revenues earned from its gold mines to Marange.

In anticipation of bids, the ZMDC created Marange Resources, a wholly owned subsidiary of the ZMDC, to represent its commercial interests. Only two companies were cherry-picked for consideration: Core Mining Resources, a small, unheard of diamond company based in Kimberley, South Africa, and Grandwell Holdings, a Mauritius-registered company with ties to the New Reclamation Group, a South African scrap metal company.

The ZMDC signed agreements with both companies on August 13 and 14, 2009, granting them each concessions measuring 2,100 hectares. In return, the companies pledged to invest $100 million in equipment and machinery needed to build physical infrastructure, including roads, security, processing facilities and water. They also agreed to share the future costs of relocating as many as 4,200 households within and around the mining fields.

The joint ventures resulted in the incorporation of two new distinct companies in which ZMDC (through Marange Resources) has 50 per cent shares. Grandwell and Marange Resources formed Condurango, which trades as Mbada Diamonds.

Core Mining formed a new company called Canadile Miners Private Limited.

Both companies have 10 directors on their boards, of which the ZMDC is allocated representatives on each. A ZMDC representative chairs both boards and, like all the parastatals members, is appointed at the discretion of the Minister.

The full corporate breakdown of the companies is far from complete, however; although Dominic Mubayiwa, the chief officer of the ZMDC, confirmed the following individuals: Mbada Board Chairman: Robert Mhlanga (President Mugabes former

helicopter pilot). ZMDC representatives: Sithengisiso Mpofu (sister-in-law to the Minister), Dingiswayo Ndlovu (personal assistant to the minister) and Chrystesona Kanjoma, one vacancy. Grandwell Representatives Paolo Kasasola, Chad Smart and

David Kassel, two vacancies. Canadile Board Chairman: Cougan Matanhire. ZMDC representatives: Dominic Mubayiwa (Chief Executive Officer, ZMDC), Alvin Ncube, Beauty Moyo, Mrs G. Chikwava. Core Mining representatives Lovemore Kurotwi, Adrian Taylor, Yehuda Licht (Israeli diamond dealer), Danesh and Ashok Pandeya

The choice of board members raises many questions about what, if any, due diligence was undertaken by the ZMDC before making the appointments. Insiders and family relations aside, almost none of the board members have any experience in the legitimate diamond mining business.

Worse still, at least half of Canadiles board is implicated in serious illegality of one kind or another. They have been described as shady individuals and fugitives from justice.

Kurotwi is a retired officer who played a senior role during the infamous 5th Brigade massacres in Matabeleland. Taylor is alleged to have worked as a mercenary in Sierra Leone, while Licht is believed to have spent time in jail in Angola on diamond-related smuggling offences.

Danesh and Ashok Pandeya were active diamond smugglers in the DRC conflict and boast to be partners of high-level people in the Zimbabwe government. Ashok is on the police wanted list in Thailand over fraud involving diamonds worth US$100 million.

There also remains a lot of speculation about the names of the as yet unnamed members. One name frequently mentioned for appointment to the Mbada board is Robert Mhlangas daughter, Patience. Grace Mugabe, the Presidents wife, is also alleged to be involved with Canadile. She is close friends with Jack Hsieh, otherwise known as Hsieh Ping-Sung, a South African national who operates a diamond cutting facility in Qingdao, on Chinas east coast.

As for the list of their shareholders, it has not been made public.

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