ZCDC under fire

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has come under fire from various stakeholders for roping in artisanal miners in the lucrative sector.

This was after ZCDC chief executive Morris Mpofu last week indicated that the State-owned firm was mulling to introduce small-scale miners to help it boost production capacity.

“We are considering ring-fencing our alluvial fields to accommodate local villagers to come and officially register to do artisanal mining,” he told the State media.

“We want to ensure that whatever they find, they will sell to government through ZCDC rather than on the black market and they will be paid for that,” he added.

However, mining experts believe that it would be prudent for government to allow diamond firms, which were chased away from Marange nearly two years ago, to resume production since they have capacity.

“We had various companies operating in Marange such as Mbada Diamonds that were contributing something to the fiscus and it only makes sense to bring them back and help in turning around the country’s waning economic fortunes,” said a mining expert.

Several diamond mining companies were in 2016 barred from the once rich diamond fields by former president Robert Mugabe on allegations of looting.

Some of the companies were forced into a merger that created ZCDC, while others resisted the move and took the government to court.

A recent report by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and Energy revealed that “ZCDC must be dissolved immediately because it was not properly constituted and the ministry must revert to the pre-February 2016 position of the concession holders.”

“The lustre of the diamond industry in Zimbabwe has been damaged due to shady deals and operations.  The new minister of Mines…. (Winston) Chitando has a tall order to ensure that transparency and accountability is inculcated into the industry.

The new strides made by the minister of Mines to announce proceeds of diamonds sales whenever an auction is conducted should be commended.

“However, there are a number of issues that still need to be resolved so that the diamond industry can contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of this country,” the report added.

Some of the unresolved issues in the lucrative diamond sector include the infringement of property rights when investors lost their equipment and capital when the companies were merged.

“In as far as investors are concerned…; Zimbabwe is a lion’s den,” said Lovemore Kurotwi, an executive with Canadile Mining, whose equipment was confiscated by the State.

“Investors will come at their own peril because there is no guarantee that when you invest you will get your money back.  I am a victim of that and it has taken me almost 10 years to recover what we had invested genuinely,” he said.

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