Zimbabwe’s finance minister has sparked outrage in parliament after failing to tell MPs how much money was collected in taxes from diamond miners operating in the disputed Marange fields in eastern Manicaland province since mining officially started in 2009.
Patrick Chinamasa, in written responses to questions from Mabvuku MP James Maridadi, said revenues from royalties and corporate income tax on all minerals and mining activities amounted to only $865 million in 2009-2014 but failed to give separate figures for Marange diamonds.
Chinamasa could now be held in contempt of parliament where refusing to answer questions, misleading the house or giving incomplete information are offences.
Maridadi had asked the Minister of Finance and Economic Development how much money Treasury has received since diamonds were discovered in Marange, in terms of corporate taxes and dividends. Chinamasa refused to divulge the figure during question time last week, triggering a backlash from Maridadi, who openly clashed with Chiratidzo Mabuwa, the Mberengwa South MP and deputy minister of industry and commerce who was mysteriously representing Chinamasa who was reported ill. Chinamasa claimed that the amount of money earned solely from diamonds was not known to the authorities. This triggered a furious response from Maridadi, who demanded that Chinamasa come to parliament with the answers he first demanded in October 2015.
In 2015, mining minister Walter Chidhakwa told MPs the state had earned a paltry $259 million as dividends from the rich diamond fields where president Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants are reported by international NGOs such as Global Witness to have looted gemstones worth billions of dollars in cahoots with the Chinese Red Army. The diamond thefts have fuelled intractable conflict within the ruling party as military officials fight for control of the spoils.
Typically, the Mugabe government thrives on spurning requests from MPs on matters where grand theft has occurred in favour of the dictator and his cronies.
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