I will deal with Eddie Cross: Mpofu

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu has said the motion sent to Cabinet to nationalise the Marange diamond fields will never pass, and alleged the man who was pushing the nationalisation agenda was a failed businessman.

Obert Mpofu
Obert Mpofu

Eddie Cross, Bulawayo South MP and MDC policy director-general, has successfully pushed a motion through Parliament to have all the miners in Marange kicked out, the area secured and a new tender floated for new players to mine diamonds.

Cross says the army and Zanu PF have no business mining for diamonds and has been stealing diamond cash and lining their pockets. Parliament has curiously pushed the motion through because of factional fights within the party, which has been handed to the leader of the House, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to take to Cabinet. Mpofu says this a futile exercise by Cross.

Mpofu, addressing journalists in the Harare Press Club, the Quill, said he would not allow Cross to bring his "poisoned chalice" to Marange.

"The Eddie Cross story, I want to deal with Eddie Cross as an individual not as a politician," Mpofu said during a wide ranging talk on various mining controversies. "Because this motion is his motion and I think his party has disassociated itself from what he has said. You saw the PM saying he supports what has happened in the KPCS, and secretary general Tendai Biti has also commended me for having achieved that," Mpofu said referring to the landmark decision by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to allow exports of Marange diamonds that were previously banned as "blood diamonds."

"And nationalisation that he is talking about is not nationalisation as we understand it," Mpofu said. "He is saying we should nationalise the Marange diamond area and leave out the other diamond mining areas like Murowa, River Ranch, and others. And from that perspective you see that the guy is not serious. He is suffering from a subject he doesn't understand."

Mpofu, who like Cross hails from Matabeleland, said the MDC MP had failed in business and was seeking relevance in politics.

"Mr Cross was general manager for CSC. What happened to CSC? A nationalised institution, its a government parastatal, it has never recovered. It will never recover because of him. He was general manager, chief executive of Beira Corridor, what happened to that? I know most of you have forgotten about it, what happened? It was destroyed and I will not allow him to destroy Marange. That's what I am going to say. We are not going to nationalise Marange. The President has said Zimbabwe is not going to nationalise any mine. We have a program of action through the indigenisation and economic empowerment act which is very clear and is actually law. There is nothing that is better than that."

Mpofu was speaking about the government to force foreign firms to surrender 51 percent shareholding to local blacks. The empowerment drive has divided the power-sharing government and spooked investors.

Mpofu said Cross' decision risks economic gains made as a direct result of diamond revenue that is flowing into the fiscus.

"What does he think we are going to benefit from nationalisatioon?" Mpofu asked. "And he is targeting companies, the only companies that have been brought some serious engagement into the national account. I said the two companies (Mbada and Marange) have actually contributed to the fiscus more than the whole mining sector including the Zimplats and Mimosas of this world in the whole period that they have been in Zimbabwe and one says they want to nationalise that. Look, he is not serious, to me its a joke. I told him that he can continue joking but some of us are not joking, we are serious."

Mpofu said Zimbabwe was forging ahead with mining diamonds for exports, and was not taking Cross' motion seriously.

"KP monitors have been here since Friday last week. The prospects are good. They pointed out one or two areas that needed attention and those were attended to immediately . It was to the surprise of the monitors because this was corrected without delay. So they have seen eveything. The last monitor to leave saw everything. We are waiting for their indication with regards to sales," Mpofu said.

He insisted that Zimbabwe was set to make US$2billion annually from the sales. He also denied allegations that he had looted State cash and invested in property in Bulawayo and Victoria Falls. He said he has been in business since 1985 when he was unfairly dismissed as managing director, got a hefty golden handshake and went into business.

Mpofu claimed Zimbabwe has been unfairly villified, and said his conscience was clear that he had not done anything wrong and had worked for God and country.

Mpofu said he has been rich since the 90s and is the country's biggest cattle rancher.

Post published in: Africa News

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