GOVERNMENT will this week start scouting for independent chartered accounting firms to audit seven companies suspected of prejudicing Zimbabwe of around US$15 billion when they operated in the Chiadzwa diamond fields over a 10-year period.
The Auditor-General’s office will flight a tender inviting local and foreign auditors to undertake the audit. Where criminal prejudice is discovered, those responsible will be prosecuted.
Auditor-General Mrs Mildred Chiri said, “The invitation to tender will be flighted (this week) and we expect those who apply to draw up their proposals for the audit over a space of a month,” she said.
Bidders will also be granted site visits to the diamond fields to assist them in drawing up their proposals.
“The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development has communicated to us that they want one audit firm to probe at least two companies because some of the companies were fairly small.
“The terms of reference will ask the auditors look into how the companies operated from an administrative point of view and also from a financial point of view. They will also look at how cash was being managed and also all receipts of payments and other financial matters.
“Because of the national outcry pertaining to the allegation of the disappearance of US$15 billion we need to get to the bottom of the matter in the shortest possible time. Normally in operations such as this we usually give the auditing firms a period of two months to complete the exercise and we expect it to be the case this time as well.”
Mbada Diamonds, Anjin, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company, Kusena Diamonds, Jinan and Gye Nyame operated in Chiadzwa under 50-50 joint ventures with the State-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
The companies were early this year ordered to cease operations to pave way for their merger into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company. Government then ordered an immediate audit of the seven companies’ books.
Official figures from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme show that Zimbabwe earned US$2,5 billion in 10 years of private operations in Chiadzwa while Government estimated that over US$15 billion could have been realised from mining activities there.
According to the KPCS, Zimbabwe was the world’s eighth-largest diamond producer in 2014 (4,7 million carats). Through ZCDC the country is primed to make rich pickings from the Chiadzwa diamond fields through a transparent system where the country will sell 500 000 carats every month at an average value of US$25 million.
This will be a significant rise from the US$157,2 million which found its way into the fiscus from Chiadzwa in 2015.
Government projections show that the country could earn between US$25 billion and US$30 billion in the next decade, compared to the US$2 billion realised since 2006. sunday mail