'$550m diamonds stolen'

HARARE - Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said Zimbabwe’s diamonds are a curse as proceeds from the sale of the gems have not benefited the country, with over $550 million unaccounted for in 2012.

Delivering a lecture at Oxford University in the United Kingdom yesterday, Tsvangirai said diamond revenue has been used to oil State machinery to stifle democracy while the majority of Zimbabweans languish in abject poverty.

“The secrecy and lack of transparency in the diamond mining industry has resulted in serious leakages and failure to remit satisfactory revenues to the State,” Tsvangirai said. “While the minister of Finance expected $600 million from the proceeds of diamond exports in 2012, the State only received about $41 million.

“This is against reported sales of diamonds running into billions of dollars every year,” he said.

According to an international non-governmental organisation, Global Witness, about  $2 billion in diamond revenues have been unaccounted for since 2008.

This comes as questions have been raised as to where all the money went and who benefited, as most Zimbabweans remain mired in poverty, with government coffers short on funds to build and maintain the nation’s roads, clinics, utility services and schools.

“In 2012, our (former) minister of Finance was forced to revise his $4 billion national budget to $3,4 billion after the $600 million expected from diamond sales did not materialise,” said Tsvangirai.

Godwills Masimirembwa, ex-chairman of state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) - which jointly operates mining companies in Marange - has persistently denied the theft charges, and said diamond sales were $700 million, of which 15 percent was paid as royalties to revenue collector Zimra at the diamond auctions.

The MDC leader noted that the continued diamond mining leakages and lack of transparency in the sector has increased the gap between the minority that are extremely rich and the majority who remain poor while at the same time fuelling the undermining of democratic processes.

He added that the poverty endemic in the Marange diamond fields was not consistent with the value of the diamonds extracted from their land.

“It is displeasing how a people can continue to wallow in poverty in the midst of a treasure benefitting the well-heeled and the well-connected in government,” he said.

Zimbabwe is the world’s fourth-largest diamond miner, producing an estimated 17 million carats this year, according to the Kimberley Process, which is charged with ensuring that gems reaching world markets are not “blood diamonds.”

Tsvangirai said since the discovery of the gems in 2006, President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF has used the diamond proceeds to stifle democracy in the country.

“The overall impact of the diamond industry so far has been to derail the democratisation process through the overt involvement of the military, corruption and the emergence of a parallel economy that has fuelled illegal and underhand dealings impacting on the electoral processes,” he said.

“Through this parallel economy, Zanu PF has large amounts of cash giving it the ability to manipulate the electoral process and subvert the will of the people through payment of shady consultancies to perform election-related work, the refusal to support the Treasury in its developmental work simply because it was MDC-controlled and the deliberate porosity and leakages in this sector.”

The former premier argued that diamond mining should benefit the communities in which mining is taking place and the people of Zimbabwe in general, including disadvantaged groups such as children and the disabled.

“The militarisation, violence and power dynamics associated with the diamond industry are generally against any measures that are likely to promote women’s participation and their interests,” he said.

Tsvangirai said there was need for beneficiation and value addition to the country’s diamonds in order to create more revenue, build industry and create jobs in Zimbabwe.

“This would assist in reducing the high unemployment levels currently pegged at almost 90 per cent. It will also enhance the country’s revenues by promoting the export of higher-value goods than the current practice where emphasis is on cheap raw materials,” he said.

Comments (12)

So what? why 600m, why not 1bn, Where are the facts? where is the evidence? It is utterances like that which the people reject in Tsvangirai.Why not run for the the English Premiership!

Don Wezhira - 28 October 2013

The idiot can never be trusted, whatever he says is hogwash, he can't even take stock of his harlot' lizzie, what a useless man?

reason - 28 October 2013

All the evidence is there with the portfolio committe, but the fact is who will give you the evidence.You bring the evidence out instead of dealing with the evidence they deal with you.Zanudemocracy.

Guest 001 - 28 October 2013

the former premier is correct

costa - 28 October 2013

THERE IS THIS COLLEGE MANICALAND COLLEGE OF APPLIED SCIENCES with programs mining engineering and chemical engineering which is in mutare fern hill in that same province which is mineral rich but the state failed to fund it 2.5 million which they promised .even a single dollar did not came.

unhappy - 28 October 2013

why saying it now, why were you silent all along when you were in government? you are also a beneficiary of those shady deals and now that they have kicked you out of the gravy train you have decided to 'spill the beans'. its pathetic Mr Sharp U-turns.

Black Crow - 28 October 2013

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The Truth - 28 October 2013

@black Crow the best time to plant was 20 years ago. wana reason nana wezhira kutuka kunoshoresa rudzi kusananganisa newe

taipei - 28 October 2013

this man is right. why do we have no change from the begining of diamond minning. potholes are becoming godges and only humps are being patched on our roads. somehow somewhere there the money is going. imagine how rich these top brass are who can even buy zimbabwe vanhu vachitambura. don't forget kuti denga rinoona everything under the sun.

robinsen - 28 October 2013

to hell with RainFlo Technology(Pvt) Ltd.unoshaya mari yekuisa tuma Advets twako kumaclassifieds here,u are pathetic trying to get cheap advertising.Mr editor make sure the scumbag does not post anything again on this blog.

enigma - 28 October 2013

Why spend time insulting those with a different opinion(If it is an opinion at all not a fact). Will transparency ever going to be in this country's vocabulary. Let's wait and see civil servants are waiting for better salaries?

Regalia - 28 October 2013

to start with 550 million haisi mari yekutamba nayo zvingadai zvisina kuoneka dai watoti hako 50 million ivo vanhu vana pihwa presentation yacho vanongoseka havo

chokwadi bvuu - 28 October 2013

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