Govt, diamond firms must find each other

HARARE - The recent move by government to appropriate claims owned by diamond companies in Marange does not only smack of hypocrisy but also puts the country on a collision course with foreign investors and taints its relationship with China and Russia. 

While it is true that all the diamond firms operating in Marange had expired licences, the government’s decision to order them to stop operations within 90 days was too harsh and uncalled for.

On Monday, Mines minister Walter Chidakwa said the government was “requesting the diamond companies to stop all operations and shut down all processes, to co-operate in the handover and takeover and to immediately vacate the mining areas without any items”.

This was after the country had last year ordered diamond companies, including joint ventures with Chinese companies mining gems in eastern Marange, to come under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.

The State-owned company was formed to explore, recover and sell all diamonds in Zimbabwe following concerns over the disappearance of diamonds and trading on the black market, leaving only little revenue trickling into State coffers.

And as expected, there was resistance from the diamond companies to participate in the forced merger as there was no transparent, laid-down procedure on how the consolidation was going to be achieved — except that the government was to own 50 percent shareholding in the company.

The resistance forced Chidakwa to note that all “the joint venture companies have been operating illegally as permits which had been granted expired and were not renewed over the last four or five years”.

As such, the authorities want to retain control over diamond regions unlike some West African countries which had been destabilised by rogue trading.

However, what the usually sober-minded Chidakwa failed to observe is that everything where the government puts its hand has collapsed in the last 36 years. For instance, Rhodesia had a vibrant economy and its companies operated exceptionally well despite the fact that it was under international sanctions.

But since independence in 1980 when government took over companies such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Commission, Air Zimbabwe, Ziscosteel, Hwange Colliery Company Limited and the Grain Marketing Board among others, are now but shells of their former selves.

The Zanu PF-led government’s impeccable track-record of destructive and populist policies that have plundered this beautiful country and its resources is there for everyone to see.

Today, we no longer have any agriculture to talk about because President Robert Mugabe’s administration in its wisdom, or lack of it, saw it fit to seize land from the illustrious white commercial farmers and parcelled it out to “incompetent and marauding” war veterans and other cronies.

Comments (3)

Finding each other in the middle of nowhere, being headed by noone, going nowhere does not help fellows!

frankly - 26 February 2016

What is surprising is that Smith created a number of productive state enterprises to prop up the economy then under heavy direct sanctions. The likes of ARDA, NRZ, ZISCO, AIR ZIMBABAWE to name but a few. These SOE were well managed when black rule came in 1980. We have since run them down because of mismanagerment. We have to blame ourself not anyone. We have failed. The solution is to bring in fresh blood not the tired politician who has even failed to run his family.

paradzayi upfumi - 26 February 2016

Why is the government making so much noise about the Chiadzwa issue after more than a decade of looting at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans. Honestly Mugabe and his out of steam cabinet has lost it, whether you take back the concessions or not, there is nothing for Zimbabweans. If you are really serious about the Chiadzwa issue, why dont you declare to the nation all the diamond that was realised for all those years.Please do not take us for granted, we have been watching you.

joe tsoka - 2 March 2016

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