The Affirmative Action Group (AAG) has added its voice to calls for government to put in place legal mechanisms that would allow local cutting and polishing companies to get jobs from local diamond mines.
The president of (AAG), Supa Mandiwanzira, said it was a curious paradox that local diamond cutting and polishing companies were importing rough diamonds for processing in their factories while local diamond mines were exporting gems for processing.
“We do not know the reason why that is happening, but one of the reasons might be that miners are fetching better prices for those rough diamonds if they export them,” said Mandiwanzira. “What is making it worse is that we do not have legislation that stipulates that the domestic market must be supplied.”
Mandiwanzira said the ideal situation would be for miners to supply the local diamond cutting and polishing industry with the raw materials before they exported any rough diamonds.
He said the system should be similar to what happens in the food industry where maize dealers supply the local market first and can only export surplus.
“To just expect diamond mines to be generous by supplying the local market is not enough. We must ensure legislation is put in place that makes it mandatory that diamond miners and other major producers of other precious minerals supply the domestic market first before they do exports,” Mandiwanzira said.
He said although Canadile Miners had been singled out as being supportive of the local diamond-cutting and polishing industry, other miners should follow suit.
Mandiwanzira said the issuing of more mining grants to indigenous players should be expedited as it would help demilitarise the Chiadzwa diamond fields.
“If the area is occupied by local mining companies, the vast diamond area would be occupied and they would automatically provide their own security personnel, which would help demilitarise the place,” he said.
He said even local villagers in Marange should be empowered by putting in place a legal framework whereby if they were to pick up a diamond, they would be able to sell it to government and reduce the temptation of being involved in illegal panning activities.
“When someone is digging a grave in Chiadzwa and they come across a diamond, they must be able to sell it to the formal market because if they cannot do that they will go to the informal market in Mozambique and that automatically criminalises their mining activities,” said Mandiwanzira.
He said Zimbabwe has been projected to become the third largest producer of diamonds in the world and the creation of the Zimbabwe Diamond Technology Centre was a welcome move as it would create infrastructure for cutting and polishing.