HomeCommentCandid Comment: Zim needs a viable diamond mining model

Candid Comment: Zim needs a viable diamond mining model

NOW that the controversial Marange diamond mining activities have been shown to be dodgy and corrupt, government leaders, if they still have any honour, need to take decisive steps to put their house in order and start serious mining to develop the country.

People are up in arms with corrupt politicians and their business cronies who are plundering national resources for self-aggrandisement. Those who have been stealing or are planning to steal the nation’s minerals through manipulation of the system must be dealt with thoroughly no matter how well-connected or powerful they are.
The current investigations and arrests must not just deal with the lower level corrupt officials but also those in the top echelons of political power who are living beyond their legitimate means and cannot account for their wealth.
In the meantime, government needs to rethink its mining model in Marange. The approach which was used to bring in Mbada and Canadile has failed. Current investigations, which are by no means exhaustive, have shown that there was a lot of deceit, lies and fraud in the way these companies, particularly Canadile, found their way into the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
As a result the Marange diamonds have been stolen, smuggled out of the country and converted into personal fortunes by corrupt politicians and their business cronies. Hundreds of millions worth of diamonds were looted from Chiadzwa.
Police must go after the thieves. There is nothing to cover up anymore. It’s now clear to everybody that the Marange deals cut by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) management and government officials with those dubious companies which have no mining experience or capacity must be reversed.
Even President Robert Mugabe should now see and appreciate that he might have been taken for a ride by his ministers, government officials and ZMDC executives.   
Mugabe must be particularly concerned because the actions of these officials have left him exposed in this convoluted diamonds saga.
When MPs tried to investigate the Marange diamonds activities earlier this year, Mugabe in March intervened personally making a spirited defence and justification of the controversial diamond mining arrangements. Mugabe claimed the Chiadzwa mining deals were above board but everyone can now see why we did not believe him. A number of Mugabe’s “ever obedient” hirelings also came to the defence of Mbada and Canadile as they sang for their supper and tried to pick the crumbs from under the tables of the Marange diamond dealers.
Beyond the revelations of sleaze, bribery and corruption, Zimbabwe needs a serious model to ensure diamonds are properly mined and their proceeds are channelled towards national development.
Zimbabwe can learn something from its neighbour Botswana on how to mine diamonds and use them to develop the country. Botswana moved from being one of the poorest countries on earth in 1966 to being one of the most prosperous in Africa. There was no magic to this; it was just competent leadership, good governance and proper management of the economy.
Diamond trade contributes approximately US$8,5 billion per year to Africa and about 65% of the world’s diamonds are produced by African countries.
In Botswana, diamonds account for 80% of export revenue, 45% of the government revenue, and 33% (approximately US$3,3 billion) of the Gross Domestic Product.
Botswana produces about US$3,3 billion worth of diamonds a year.
Diamonds were discovered in Botswana in 1967 and the government is mining in a 50-50 joint venture (Debswana) with South African mining giant De Beers.
Over the past 25 years, Botswana has had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, courtesy of effective leadership, good governance and capable economic management. Zimbabwe, which is more naturally endowed with minerals and human capital, can achieve far more if it puts its house in order.
But there doesn’t appear to be much sign of that on the horizon. There is just a gloomy picure of the political and economic situation.

Dumisani Muleya

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