Politicsweb - The convenient death of Zanu-PF`s Edward Chindori-Chininga - DOCUMENTS

Violet Gona - Alan Marting

23 June 2013

SW Radio Africa transcript of interview between Violet Gonda and Alan Martin on the late 'diamond whistleblower'

Hot Seat transcript: Zanu-PF ‘diamond whistleblower' Chindori-Chininga dies in car crash

The discussion on SW Radio Africa's Hot Seat this week is about the death of Zanu-PF legislator Edward Chindori-Chininga, who last week released a damning report about the involvement of ZANU PF officials and allies in the diamond industry. He died in a car crash on Wednesday. Alan Martin the director of research at Partnership Africa Canada, a civil society organization that is part of the Kimberley Process, communicated extensively with Chindori- Chininga in recent weeks.

He says Chindori- Chininga told him earlier this month that he knew he was a "marked man" and that his work as chairman of the parliamentary committee on mines had ended his political career in ZANU PF. He is said to have told delegates at a workshop in South Africa two weeks ago that some of the individuals in government who complained about the targeted western economic sanctions were the same people who were benefitting the most from the restrictions, because it allowed them to operate in the grey zone.


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VIOLET GONDA: The Zanu PF MP for Guruve South, Edward Chindori-Chininga, died in a car crash while driving in his constituency on Wednesday. This has set Zimbabwe talking because last Wednesday he released a damning report about the involvement of Zanu PF officials and allies in the diamond industry. Only two weeks ago the lawmaker was at a workshop prior to the Kimberley Process meeting in South Africa and delegates told SW Radio Africa he was openly critical of the diamond situation in Zimbabwe. Last week as chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy, Chindori-Chininga presented this highly critical report to parliament on Zimbabwe's diamond industry.

Alan Martin is the director of research at Partnership Africa Canada, a civil society organization that is part of the Kimberley Process, and he's someone who communicated extensively in the last few weeks with the late former Mines minister and I asked him to tell me more about the work that Chindori-Chininga was involved in. Mr Martin welcome to the programme Hot Seat.

ALAN MARTIN: Thank you very much Violet.

GONDA: First of all can you start by giving us your reaction to the sad news?

MARTIN: Well I think it is a great tragedy, obviously for his family and we express our condolences to his wife and his family on his passing. I think he was certainly a maverick politician and I think that the work that he did in his role as the chair of the portfolio committee on Energy and Mines I think was absolutely stellar. I think he was a great example of probably perhaps the best parliamentary tradition of using his role to use the parliamentary structures to try and find out and get to the truth of the matter or the issues that were surrounding Marange and I think that for that we will always be indebted to him for his work.

GONDA: Did it surprise you that there was a senior member of Zanu PF who was forthcoming with information on diamond dealings in the country?

MARTIN: Yes. I should clarify that my personal relationship with him is actually quite new; in the time that I was doing research on Marange, a lot of it was by using information that he had gleaned from his inquisitory style in the committee where he revealed a lot of information. He got company officials and government officials, members of the ZMDC for example and even the minister (Obert Mpofu) himself to admit things in front of the committee which I felt very useful for my work.

But I personally only met him for the first time at the beginning of this month and I think I was very much struck by the fact that he had this sort of independent sense of style, this belief that he had a role and parliament had a role in finding out and having some kind of oversight of what happened in Marange. So I was a bit surprised, perhaps to one degree, to the extent that someone in a senior seat in government would be this cooperative but I think the lesson I also take from him is that despite the fact that we might have had our disagreements, it's always important to remember that even in regimes such as that in Mugabe's faction that I think there are people who are always willing to listen and to be able to talk despite the fact that we might have our disagreements.

GONDA: Several parliamentarians have described him as a man who really knew his mining issues and was a no-nonsense kind of guy especially during sessions where he chaired the parliamentary portfolio committee on mining. I hear he even tried hard to get corrupt guys to answer the right questions during hearings and he repeatedly interrupted people reminding them that they were under oath and that perjury is a crime. I also received an email that he sent out last week to the outside world, and I think you were also on that mailing list, and basically he was forwarding the contents of the report that he presented in parliament. The report had quite some astounding issues - what can you tell us about the report?

MARTIN: As you say it was very surprising; it was one that took about four years to write so it was quite a well thought out piece and I think one of the things that I thought was the most striking about it was that it essentially, from a government perspective, for somebody in his position to essentially be agreeing with the Minister of Finance that there was a huge discrepancy between what companies were remitting to government and what the Treasury was receiving. And one of the things he did was to actually go to the companies themselves and ask them to reveal how much they had paid to the government in terms of royalties, depletion fees, marketing fees, dividends, corporate tax - things like that - and just in the case of Mbada for example - Mbada told the committee that they had given something like a US$117 million and yet the government could only account for 41 million of those. So I think this was a pretty astounding thing. And he was very clear in directing responsibility for this directly at the executive, particularly the Minister of Mines.

And I think this is one of the things that made him so effective in that position as committee chair. As a former Minister of Mines he knew exactly how that ministry was supposed to work which I think made it very difficult for people to try and whitewash him. Just in terms of the lead up to your question, I think one of the things that he was very good at, even in the case of Minister Mpofu, he even mentioned about how he had issued four subpoenas to Mpofu to, recently to appear before the committee and Mpofu had been denying those and dismissing them and I think finally he had to actually get the Speaker to issue, or get the police to actually go and present the Minister with that final subpoena which if he'd not agreed to would have resulted in the Minster's arrest. This man was very tenacious; I think he really believed that parliament and Zimbabwe deserved to have answers as to how this precious resource was being managed.