Partnerships needed to grow diamond industry: Mhlanga

HARARE - It is my pleasure to stand before you again at the 2nd Dubai Diamond Conference hosted and presented by the Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE).

The DDE has undoubtedly continued to remain a strategic and influential institution within the global diamond industry. Our inaugural meeting was held at this same venue back in 2013 and since then significant changes have occurred in our industry some of which we celebrate and some of which draw our attention back to issues that still require our concerted effort to tackle and improve.

On behalf of Mbada Diamonds we would like to proffer our appreciation for being honoured yet again with an opportunity and platform to share our views with the world’s most dynamic institutions and policy makers in the diamond industry.

Of significant note to us all here is that the diamond industry continues to provide significant opportunities for growth and investment and our priority goal as a forum should be how to collectively manage this growth in a sustainable manner as well as fostering ethical business behaviour.

The overall demand for rough and cut and polished diamonds continues to grow. There is substantial potential to meet and surpass this demand by rough diamond producers.

However, to reach this equilibrium of production and demand, the industry needs to embrace the pivotal role of interdependency and need for concerted collaboration along the entire diamond value chain. This includes the establishment of diamond financing in new and emerging markets to sustain growth for all players.

Africa continues and shall remain one of the leading producer destinations of rough diamonds. We are delighted that this conference has rightly identified the role of Africa in global diamond trade as one of the topical issues to be discussed during this conference.

Notwithstanding a viable and untapped resource base, the past few years have seen the proliferation of a number of challenges that are affecting the desired levels of rough diamond output.

There is increasing pressure on producers to invest and extract the product which now lies deeper into mother earth so as to enable producers to meet demand.

However, this process requires significant investment as the extraction process is complex and costly. The cost of mining has also continued to increase with the principal input costs, that is; labour, machinery and energy; as well as an entire host of other related inputs.

Substantial investment will be required in diamond production and technology if the industry is to attain the desired levels of success.

Ladies and gentleman this is why we continue to advocate for synergies along the entire diamond value chain.

As a corporate, we remain committed to playing our part in the diamond industry and we can rest assure you that individually and as a nation, Zimbabwe continues to hold a significant resource base of diamonds.

The Government of Zimbabwe through the ministry of Mines and Mining Development is embarking on various initiatives aimed at providing institutional support to producers.

The people seated in this forum today, to a great extent, do represent the entire diamond value chain. What is at stake is our ability to agree and act upon issues as a collective. There is need to create sustainable business momentum and support each other irrespective of our differences.

The global diamond industry does bare all the hallmarks of a shared destiny.

I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King Jnr in his speech entitled Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution delivered in June 1965 when he said, “I would like to suggest some of the things that we must do in order to remain awake and to achieve proper mental attitudes and responses that the new situation demands.

“First, I would like to say that we are challenged to achieve a world perspective. Anyone who feels that we live in isolation today, anyone who feels that we can live without being concerned about other nations and individuals is sleeping through a revolution.

“The world in which we live is geographically one. The great challenge now is to make it one in terms of brotherhood... And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood.

“We must all learn to live together as brothers — or we will all perish together as fools. This is the great issue facing us today. No individual can live alone; no nation can live alone. We are tied together”

As I highlighted in my previous speech delivered in 2013, in order for us to improve global diamond trade, we need partnerships.

Partnerships that lead to free diamond trade which is complemented by fair diamond pricing.

A concerted stand should also be made towards international de-politicisation of the industry, needless to say that as a nation Zimbabwe has encountered and continues to encounter numerous political hurdles in its trade of diamonds.

These hurdles unnecessarily affect productivity and sustainability. The other threat which stands in our way as an industry is technological advancement which has led to the advent proliferation of synthetic diamonds which pose a cheaper alternative to the real diamonds.

Notwithstanding production costs incurred by producers, cutters and polishers and jewellers alike, we face prejudice in competing with cheaper laboratory products. It is not a secret that the synthetic diamond sector has a niche within the overall market and this conference should address this challenge.

We are happy that this conference is hosting Hemen Van Rompuy on the backdrop of the developing relationship between the European Union and emerging diamond markets.

This relationship has brought traction which has yielded noticeable results such as the removal of illegal sanctions that had been imposed on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

Whilst this positive step was taken, potential exists for further collaboration and support to diamond players interacting with the European market.

Again taking a lesson from Dr Martin Luther King’s speech previously alluded to;

“...all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all directly”.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us thrive for landmark success in our discussions. I wish, it is a noble expectation that by the end of this conference we would have made progress in collectively addressing challenges we are facing as a global diamond industry.

*Mhlanga is the chairman of Mbada Diamonds and delivered this speech at the Dubai Diamond Conference last week.

Comments (2)

This is total hypocrisy, how can a man who has destroyed people's lives talk of ethics and morals. Mbada hasn't paid employees , suppliers and contractors. Everyone who does any form of business with Mbada is crying. Vanhu Vari kurara panze pema office e Mbada apo wonzwa munhu achitaura Brotherhood etc. Nyaraiwo veduwee.

Kakara Kununa - 7 May 2015

This Mhlanga guy is a CEO at Dubai Diamonds and is connected to the very top. Its high time a Human Rights organisation represented the employees and expose this guy. report him to ILO International Labour Organisation

Diamonds are a girls best friend - 8 May 2015

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