Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu has admitted there could be massive smuggling of diamonds from Marange into neighbouring countries.
Mpofu said he was shocked last week when Zambia and Mozambique allegedly sought to join the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) and yet these countries do not have any known diamond deposits.
“When I was in DRC last week, Zambia and Mozambique said they wanted to join the KPCS but they don’t have any information that they have diamonds.
“But we have information that a lot of our diamonds went through these countries.
“There are massive leakages at the border posts, but policing of the border is not the responsibility of the Mines ministry.
“We believe our diamonds are being clandestinely smuggled out of the country,” Mpofu told a parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls last week.
He said police were doing their best despite budgetary constraints to monitor the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border, a stretch of about 1 700 km. He lashed out at Human Rights Watch for allegedly campaigning for a total ban of Zimbabwe’s diamonds, saying the non-governmental organisation was “refusing to provide technical assistance to eradicate the very issues we are accused of doing.”
Mpofu urged the government to install modern scanning machinery at the country’s border posts to reduce the smuggling of precious minerals like gold and diamonds.
The KPCS last week lifted a ban on diamond exports from Zimbabwe, and the country is now set to earn in excess of $2 billion in gross revenue annually from the sale of the gems.
But Mpofu said the $2 billion figure was “just a conservative estimate as it could be more”.
The ban on Zimbabwe’s diamonds had been inspired by lack of transparency in the way they were sold by the government-dominated companies that operate in Marange.