Various media reports point out that the Marange diamonds might be roughly 20% of all global diamond deposits. If this is true, then it is a God-given chance to turn around the fortunes of the country, especially considering that the global economic crisis favours minerals such as gold and diamonds.
The Earth Times reported that, “The hugely prolific Chiadzwa fields are regarded as the world’s biggest diamond find in more than a century”.
The New York Times quoted a United Nations-related expert Mark Van Bockstael as saying: “This (Marange) is a world-class deposit, no doubt about it.” He added, “The deposit is a freak of nature.”
If this is true, then imagine how wonderful it would be if the diamonds were properly managed and put to good and transparent use. Maybe Zimbabweans can learn from how other nations managed their precious resource finds. There are many examples that we could learn from. We could take for instance the discovery of oil in Norway and how the Norwegian government managed its oil resources.
Oil has netted in billions of dollars for Norway and as the United Nation index says, Norway is rated as the country with the best living standards in the world. This is mainly due to its oil and gas revenues.
Zimbabwe does not need to waste time thinking about how to manage the diamonds and the gold for the benefit of its citizenry. It can simply learn from examples such as Norway. The lesson is that Zimbabwe should have ownership of its strategic resources. By Zimbabwean ownership, it is meant a transparent, democratic system accepted by and accountable to the citizens of the country through constitutionally recognisable provisions. Below are some quotes on how the oil structure works and benefits Norway.
In 2009, Norway’s petroleum sector accounted for 21% of value creation in the country. This is three times the value creation of the manufacturing industry and around 22 times the total value creation of the primary industries.
By revenue, Norway’s oil utility Statoil was last year ranked by Fortune Magazine as the world’s 13th largest oil and gas company, and the largest company in the Nordic region by reveue, profit, and market capitalisation.
From oil history and oil management in Norway, people can learn that significant resources like diamonds and gold must be state-owned in partnership with private investors who have the expertise. Success depends on transparency and accountability and the ability of the majority of the citizens to accept the laws governing the natural resource industry. It is critical that laws governing significant natural resources like oil, gold and diamonds are seen as moral and beneficial by the majority of a country’s citizens.
It is rare for citizens to reject government control of a country’s natural resources as long as the citizens feel that they are benefitting through infrastructural developments, improved standards of living, better salaries, better education, health and liberty, among other things. Foreign control of significant and strategic assets like oil, gold and diamonds will rarely develop a nation. Local ownership is a preferred model only when it benefits all its citizens and not a select few. All hopes are that Zimbabwe will strive to exploit the diamonds to uplift the standards of people’s lives in rural areas as well as urban areas.
About the Author
Ocean Marambanyika writes from the University of Oslo, Norway.