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Diamonds should benefit ordinary citizens

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Zimbabwe’s alluvial diamonds from the Marange mining fields continue to hog the limelight worldwide, albeit for the wrong reasons.

Since the Kimberly Process (KP) meeting in Kinshasa last week, there has been mixed reactions to the statement by the KP chair that Zimbabwe should be allowed to sell its diamonds.

What is, however, worrying is the fact that there has been no consensus among the players in the KP, with Zimbabwe’s critics Canada and United States of America arguing the diamonds could not be readily traded on the international market until Zimbabwe fulfils certain obligations.

It seems the KP Process remains divided on how to proceed with the country’s gems while the ordinary citizens have their eyes on the diamonds revenue that is being touted as the solution to the myriad of socio-economic challenges that have bludgeoned the country for many years, including awarding civil servants the long-awaited and well-deserved salary increments.

As we reported in our issue of yesterday, it is sad to hear the Finance minister say he was yet to receive a single cent from diamond revenue this year.

It is ironic that the Zanu PF component of the inclusive government claims Finance minister Tendai Biti is solely responsible for awarding salary increments using money from the diamonds while on the other hand Biti himself claims he never received any money from diamond sales. We now begin to wonder: Who is fooling who?

We agree with Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister John Baird who said diamonds from Marange should benefit the people of Zimbabwe and that it was important to ensure that diamonds are properly and credibly certified through a strong KP Process.

It is about time that the international community, particularly the anti-Zimbabwe crusade, appreciated how these diamonds are potentially the panacea to many a Zimbabwean’s woes.

While we appreciate their concern over Zimbabwe’s democratic deficit, it is important to strike a fine balancing act between having the government change its way of doing things and hearken to the cry of the country’s economically hard-pressed population.

The debate over Zimbabwe’s precious gemstones has laid bare divisions among Kimberley’s disparate members, which include foreign governments, human rights and diamond industry groups.

Some warn that continuing to block exports from the Marange fields will compel the cash-strapped inclusive government to find illicit channels for its diamond sales.

It is our firm belief that much of this haggling is unnecessary and the longer this process takes, the more frustrated and restless the underpaid employees will get.

We pray that a conclusion be brought regarding this matter so that an effective way forward can be mapped. This continuous haggling is not going to get us anywhere!

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