Mbada Diamonds defies odds

HARARE - The image projected by western-funded civic society organisations of Mbada Diamonds to the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and the entire world diamond industry, through a heavily-resourced and coordinated sting operation, makes Italy’s Mafia look like boy scouts.

The success recorded to date that sees Mbada Diamonds and other diamond mining entities in Marange being now treated as the most sought after diamond producers is a result of an unprecedented and most fierce intellectual fight ever waged by Zimbabwe since 1980.

Mbada Diamonds executive chairman Robert Mhlanga’s presentation at the recently held Dubai Diamond Conference convinced the world that Mbada Diamonds has now arrived and now set to bury De Beers’ century old cartel and Brussels’ Antwerp is and will be poorer without Mbada Diamonds on its suppliers’ list.

“We are KP compliant and remain committed to ensuring that our operations and standing within the industry are not tainted though it goes without saying that we have struggled against political and economic hurdles presented by some in the global community.

“We are an all-rounded corporate, we take our business operations seriously and we also take our capability of positively impacting every individual in our environment seriously,” said Mhlanga.

The Dubai Diamond Conference was held to herald the new silk route of world diamonds trade, which consists of the heavily endowed diamond producers of Africa, the financial muscle of Dubai and the ingenuity of Surat and China.

This development is heavily driven by the emergence of consumptive high capital income class in China, India and the United Arab Emirates who have turned diamond products into a necessity.

More than 500 delegates who attended this Dubai maiden indaba included world leading bankers, diamond cutters and polishers, traders, diamond bourse executives and political leaders.

“From a capacity point of view, Mbada Diamonds can guarantee this market that we have enough diamonds to ensure the continued growth of this industry, not only as a corporate but also as a nation.

“On its own, Zimbabwe has the capacity to cater for 30 percent of the global diamond demand and that fact cannot be ignored. Our role is defined within the new route, we provide the product and we undoubtedly can,” said Mhlanga.

This message was welcomed by many Asian diamond traders who could not source diamonds from European diamond producers due to De Beers’ cartel that imposes  serious and unprecedented restrictive measures in diamond trade.

This has, up to the commencement of Marange diamond mining operations, limited the number of players in the diamond players especially from Asia.

“Over our seemingly few years of operations, we have generated nearly a billion dollars in terms of value within this industry. With the state-of-the-art equipment and infrastructure, our focus remains on continually improving operational efficiency and capacity," Mhlanga said.

Analysts now argue the steep growth trajectory of Mbada Diamonds of the past four years caused the forced resignation of Nick Openheimer from the chairmanship of De Beers’ as its fortunes were now smouldering into thin air.

The bull is now dehorned and castrated.

The importance of Mhlanga’s appearance at this diamond conference and the averments he made resulted in a diplomatic coup that tactfully rubbished the EU, Canada and United States’ rhetoric on Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

Aided by a high definition video presentation, the Mhlanga presentation successfully argued its corporate social responsibility programmes and its relocation is the best undertaken by a corporate since the February 26, 1885 Berlin Conference held at the residence of Chancellor Bismarck on the partition of Africa.

None of the companies which came out of this colonial enterprise took a concise and deliberate attempt to fully compensate the affected communities as done by Mbada Diamonds.

The relocation of Marange villagers by Mbada Diamonds and other diamond mining firms, including the remains of their departed loved ones, is the biggest exercise ever undertaken in Africa by a single mine.
 
The exercise also includes the construction of key supporting infrastructure like roads, schools and clinics.

The continuing supply of monthly food hampers to the resettled villagers has provided the much needed food security to these families.

Such acts of benevolence are inconsistent with the charges of human rights violations made against this mining giant.

This positive story of Mbada Diamonds has never been told on the international stage and Mhlanga properly presented these pro-poor activities to the delegates and all were amused.

Mhlanga proved correct minister Obert Mpofu’s claims that the Marange mining entities in Zimbabwe over complied with the KPCS minimum requirements.

Addressing the Kinshasa KP plenary in 2011, Mpofu said, “Mr. Chairman, I dare to challenge any diamond mining operations anywhere in the world, De Beers included, to tell us that they are better than our own diamond mines in Marange in all facets including on non-KP matters.” - Tafadzwa Musarara

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