GOVERNMENT is in the process of acquiring equipment for the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company (ZCDC), an amalgamation of three diamond miners in Marange, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has said.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
ZCDC is an entity formed through the merger of Kusena, Jinan and Marange Resources as a step towards plugging leakages through enhanced transparency and accountability.
The government plans to merge all diamond miners into ZCDC in which the State will have 50% shareholding.
Chinamasa told Parliament last week that the equipment would be acquired from Belarus.
“We are acquiring equipment from Belarus and we are going to equip our Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company to exploit the three concessions previously belonging to Kusena, Jinan and Marange Resources,” he said.
“The process of consolidation will take time and I sense sometimes that there is some resistance. It will take time. We will proceed in a parallel fashion.”
The acquisition of the machinery comes as government is seeking key personnel to run the merged entity.
Chinamasa said Mines and Mining Development minister Walter Chidhakwa would proceed with this consolidation, adding that the country would start producing diamonds through ZCDC.
Chinamasa told Parliament value-addition of the diamonds had commenced with the cutting and polishing at Aurex — a unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“Aurex, which is a subsidiary of Reserve Bank, has started cutting and polishing diamonds and we were able to assist it to acquire state-of-the-art equipment from India,” he said.
“At first, we were going to China and we realised that they were also buying from India.
“When I look at all those things, including that which is sometimes not taken into account, the fact that we are putting in place funding of power stations means that we are putting a proper foundation for our economic take off.”
Despite mining diamonds in Marange, little has gone into Treasury, with former Finance minister Tendai Biti telling a stakeholders’ meeting in 2012 that a coterie of individuals was clandestinely benefitting from the diamonds.
Addressing delegates at a diamond workshop, Biti said officials that were looting diamonds were not afraid to flaunt their ill-gotten riches.
“There is no doubt that a small coterie of individuals is benefitting from Zimbabwe’s diamonds,” he said at the time.
“Some of us [officials] who are benefitting are not afraid to flaunt our monies. We are buying all kinds of assets. I am a government minister and earning $800. How do I buy some of the assets that we are buying? People are now buying private jets because of our diamonds.”
Diamond output dwindled to 4,7 million carats last year from a peak of 12 million carats in 2012.
Frustration within government corridors stems from the fact that the diamond industry has not benefitted the population despite its potential.
In his 2016 national budget, Chinamasa said there “was greater economic impact from diamonds during times of uncontrolled alluvial panning than what is being realised following the introduction of formal diamond mining arrangements”.
He said in Botswana where on average about $3,2 billion worth of diamonds “are produced, respective revenues enable every child in the country to receive free education up to the age of 13”.