Biti slams military interference in mining

“I have got a big bone to chew with all the mines, but particularly with Anjin,” said Biti. “We are not getting anything from Anjin. I am not that much worried about the other companies like Mbada and Marange because those are partly owned by Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)  and so we are getting something from them,” Biti said.

Speaking at the Centre for Research and Development workshop on diamond mining in Harare on Tuesday, Biti queried Anjin’s shareholding and said instead of the Chinese firm partnering with the ZMDC, the military was embedded in its operations.

Since its set up, Anjin has been under scrutiny because it has not remitted anything to the ZMDC despite generating more than US$72 million in sales from the beginning of the year.

“I think it is totally unacceptable that Anjin does not remit. I am also very angry with Anjin because they are by far the biggest mine there. Anjin has seven shafts combined, that means they have seven mines in one area,” said Biti.

To prevent further exploitation of Zimbabwe, Biti has proposed a Diamond Act, which will create a diamond oversight board to administer the receipt of diamond revenue, regulate mining standards and prevent smuggling.

Biti said this would help ensure that there was more transparency in the diamond sector. The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe currently oversees the marketing, processing and selling of all the country’s minerals, including diamonds.

Careful management of a resource valued at US$800 billion could reportedly help grow Zimbabwe’s economy by more than 15% in the next decade and raise the nation’s per capita income from an average US$250 to more than US$300, which is above international poverty thresholds.

Due consideration of communities displaced by the discovery of alluvial diamonds in 2006 was emphasised, but only 600 out of an estimated 4 700 displaced families have been resettled on Arda Transau Farm in Odzi, a move described as inadequate compensation for the loss of livelihood and valuable land.

“Chiadzwa is in a dry area full of baobab trees and the communities there practiced conscious preservation of the trees, but the Chinese are making baobab soup. When I went there I had some and enjoyed, but the Chinese are eating the baobabs,” said Biti.

Militarisation of mining in Chiadzwa has also been accompanied by gross human rights violations with rights groups saying people’s homes are surrounded by armed security personnel who randomly beat up people and sometimes set their dogs on them.

While the Diamond Act is still being formulated, diamond mining is currently regulated by the Precious Stones Trade Act. The non-remittances by companies like Anjin and under-invoicing by other firms has heavily prejudiced treasury of its rightful revenue and created resentment between local communities and mining firms.