Zimbabwe should take serious measures to ensure transparency in the extraction and sale of its diamonds if the nation is going to benefit from its historic find, the leader of the visiting Kimberley Process Diamond Review team said Thursday.
Kpandel Fayia was addressing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy at Parliament Building following the long-awaited certification of Zimbabwe’s diamonds on Wednesday.
Fayia’s concerns come amid reports that some “unknown” foreign companies were mining diamonds at Chiadzwa and also in Chimanimani.
MPs from the mines committee disclosed to NewsDay in separate interviews Thursday that the team had revealed that some unknown companies were said to be operating in Marange and Chimanimani.
“There is a Chinese company operating a joint business venture with soldiers in Chiadzwa and the Kimberley team has also disclosed to us that another company unknown to us is also mining in Chimanimani,” said an MP who refused to be named.
Other sources also claimed yesterday that Zimbabwe’s diamonds had already been auctioned two days before the Kimberly certification event on Wednesday, at the airport hangar, an issue that has raised concern that there was need for transparency.
Abbey Chikane, the Kimberly Process Monitor who had been expected to appear before the committee, did not turn up.
Chairman of the committee Edward Chindori Chininga told journalists after the meeting with Fayia and his team that the KP team had put a lot of emphasis on transparency and the need to close pilfering loopholes.
“Fayia, a Liberian government minister said as a country we have to ensure that proceeds from diamond sales goes to the people,” said Chininga.
“We are aware that the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu and the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti have been discussing on structures of how the transactions should be worked out.”
The KP team told the mines committee that NGOs should be allowed to play their watchdog function on the diamond issue to ensure that there was transparency, Chininga said.
“There was an agreement that there must be a focal point for NGOs to be involved. We said to them that since Zimbabwe had too many NGOs, those should operate under the umbrella body of Nango (National Assocition Non-Governmental Organisations).
The (Farai) Maguwu issue was also brought in and we said as parliament we did not interfere with court cases and how they are handled. The executive does the governance and we as parliament check to see if they did it properly.”