Nothing from diamonds yet: Biti

HARARE - Finance minister Tendai Biti says companies mining diamonds in Marange have not remitted a single cent to Treasury this year.

With the government financially crippled to bankroll fast approaching elections — Biti had hoped that remittances from the biggest alluvial diamond fields in Africa, would cushion the struggling economy — but government coffers are empty.

Biti said the diamond companies have not given government anything at least to the ministry of Finance.

Presenting his State of the Economy Report for April at his government offices, Biti said revenue from the diamond mining companies would have been channelled towards financing the voter registration exercise and the forthcoming elections.

So far, Treasury has channelled $25 million towards a 30-day voter registration blitz, which will begin in earnest next week.

“Government is going to publish how the process is going to pan out. Every ward will have a mobile voter registration centre and every school should have the voters’ roll for inspection.

This funding will cover voter education, information and publicity under the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

Police will work in ensuring peace and stability and the actual work of voter registration. What we are now left with is to secure the remaining funds to cover elections,” Biti said.

Biti said at least $113 million was needed for the elections and money from diamonds would have helped ease the embarrassment of begging in the region.

Despite the fact that Zimbabwe is endowed with precious minerals government finds itself in a fix as diamond mining companies fail to live up to expectations.

“There are no receipts on diamonds since January. The revenue from the diamonds could have gone a long way in sponsoring the elections,” said Biti.

Now, with the government reeling — the only option open for Biti and his counterparts is to go begging.
“We expect the UN to assist and we have written to Sadc and to individual countries such as South Africa and Angola for financial assistance.

“We have no doubt we will be able to secure the funds. People want to assist Zimbabwe as we have shown what we can do during the referendum and voter registration exercise,” Biti said.

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