$30m from Chiadzwa diamond sales missing

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Finance minister, Tendai Biti yesterday said the government has failed to trace $30 million realised from the sale of diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa gem fields.
Biti said past diamond sales were not done transparently to the extent that his ministry and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) had no clue what happened to revenue raised from the sales.
“According to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme monitor, Zimbabwe had sold at least US$30 million worth of diamonds from Marange, which Treasury and Zimra had no record or knowledge of,” Biti said in his mid-term budget review speech.
He said a new diamond law should be enacted to ensure transparency in the extraction and sale of the gems.
Biti said the Act would provide for the establishment of a Diamond Fund which would be part of the overall National Mining Fund.
“This will avoid the current opaqueness and suspicions over the quality and actual value of resources being generated from the current diamond mining operations in Marange,” Biti said.
“It is important that any revenue from Marange is accounted for transparently in terms of the law, with the Consolidated Revenue Fund receiving its dues in full under Parliamentary oversight in terms of the Constitution.”
Biti said under the proposed Act the state should conduct alluvial diamond mining activities.
“There is consensus in government that there has to be a new Diamond Act that says alluvial diamond mining in Zimbabwe be conducted by and through the state,” he said.
Alluvial diamonds are gems removed from the kimberlite by natural erosion and deposited in new environments such as a river bed, an ocean floor or a shoreline.
“This will be in recognition that it will not be “business as usual” at Marange and that the State will not allow issuance of multiple mining licences that facilitate proliferation of small diamond mining operations,” he said.
Biti said the proposed Act would also deal with the issue of compensation and relocation of displaced communities in Marange, including provision of the necessary social infrastructure.
He said it was important for Zimbabwe to comply with the Kimberley Process and to respect the rule of law and constitutionalism.
Biti said the legal battle between the government and Africa Consolidated Resources should be handled in a ‘win-win’ situation.