Diamond colleges have accused the government of being concerned with selling the stones rather than adding value, which would create employment for millions of Zimbabweans and rake in fortunes for the country through selling finished products.
A shareholder of Zimbabwe Diamond Education College (ZDEC), Lovemore Kurotwi and director of Braitwood Institute of Gemology— another diamond college — Bernard Mahara Mutanga, sang from the same hymn book in separate interviews with NewsDay.
Kurotwi said Zimbabwe was not benefiting from the precious gem because it lacked qualified personnel and diamond industry to monitor the gem.
He said ever since ZDEC’s diamond licence was approved in April this year, the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Development was taking long to hand it over to the college, thereby disadvantaging students in their practical lessons.
Kurotwi said by now the country was supposed to have produced its own diamond experts rather than importing expertise from other countries such as South Africa.
“Our country is exporting labour at the expense of our unemployed youths who could have benefited had diamond colleges been allowed to operate without political interference,” Kurotwi said.
“Zimbabwe is only getting 20% value from its mining of diamonds but 80% value is realised by other countries such as India who add value to our diamonds,” he added.
Kurotwi added the college which enrolled physically challenged students from Danhiko Project, was waiting in despair to be allowed access to real diamonds for practical lessons in diamond cutting and polishing.
Mutanga agreed: “Zimbabwe was supposed to be training its own people in diamond value addition, but our efforts to operate these colleges are not being complimented by the State,” he said.
“Our licences were suspended and there is no college that is teaching students in diamond cutting and polishing as we speak.
“How can we prosper as a country if we do not train our own people,” he added.
Efforts to get comments from the Mines ministry proved fruitless as the minister’s mobile phones were unreachable while the receptionist at Obert Mpofu’s office kept saying the minister and the ministry secretary were attending meetings.