Zim must set up a diamond industry

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The failure by Zimbabwe to establish a diamond industry six years after the discovery of the precious gems, has led to the country being accused of mismanagement of the stones, prompting the outside world to take advantage of the situation.

Unlike in other diamond-producing countries, where the leaders in the diamond business are players in the industry, Zimbabwe continues to use Minister of Mines Obert Mpofu to run the show, raising suspicion in management and accountability of the gems by institutions such as Rapaport, a global diamond trade watchdog.

An analyst who declined to be identified said: “Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu has done well to win the hearts of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), but should not be leading the show as is the case now. Instead he should set up a diamond industry where the management of the gems would be done while the governments monitors and controls the industry.”

The analyst said whatever Mpofu says to the diamond players who are members of KPCS, his statements are treated with caution as they regard him as a politician.

He also said instead of KPCS members communicating at a business level with Zimbabwe, the minister had been a stumbling block since everything concerning diamonds was directed to him and as a result the country was deprived of the much-needed development.

A diamond industry operates differently from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), which are parastatals, he said.

The diamond industry is set up in such a way that it incorporates all the diamond players in the country under one roof.

This is so as it becomes the industry’s responsibility to account for all the gems from all the mines, communicates with investors, ensure the accountability of every gem, apprise the government of the diamond stocks, negotiate with buyers and ensure the country knows how much would have been sold and what revenue the State would have obtained.

He also said the reason Zimbabwe’s diamonds were referred to as “blood diamonds” was not because of a conflict in the country, but lack of proper management caused by lack of expertise hence the need to train locals to run the industry.

Lovemore Kurotwi, Core Mining and Mineral Resources and Zimbabwe Diamond Education College director, said: “Zimbabwe joined KPCS voluntarily. As such we are in the game which we should understand and know how to play very well, failure of which on every move we make, a whistle is bound to be blown against us.”

Kurotwi further said there was need for Minister Mpofu to consult with local stakeholders to avoid discord and called on the government to support an initiative by private local colleges to train Zimbabweans in diamond processing.

Director of Braitwood Institute of Gemology Benard Mutanga said: “There is need for training people and a diamond industry in Zimbabwe. Look at Rapaport Group, a global diamond trade watchdog, instead of training beginners in the diamond industry, they take advantage of lack of knowledge of Zimbabweans and call for a gem trade ban.”

Reports indicate that the Rapaport Group has been trying to establish its diamond price list as the best market indicator of the gemstone prices across the world. Its attempts to persuade the media in Mumbai to cast the diamonds as “blood diamonds” did not yield the intended results.

According to www.dnainndia.com, many believe the prices displayed by Rapaport are the prices and trends that De Beers would like it to indicate, thus giving De Beers a chance to prop up the prices of the roughs it wants to promote over those it wishes to exclude.

Rapaport has refused to list the prices of Zimbabwe’s diamonds on the basis of claims that they are “blood diamonds”, extracted in exploitative conditions.

“Marange diamonds are sanctioned by the US and EU governments out of concern that they will fund such abuse. While such diamonds are legal for trade in India, they are not ethical diamonds and should be avoided by responsible companies and consumers.

It is vital that India’s diamond industry separates Marange from non-Marange diamonds so that legitimate distribution channels can be maintained and India does not get a bad reputation as aiding and abetting human rights abuses in the diamond industry by mixing bad diamonds with good diamonds.

The Rapaport Group is a US entity and will not tolerate the listing of Marange diamonds on its trading networks for ethical as well as legal reasons,”

managing director Martin Rapaport was quoted saying.
Mutanga said Zimbabwe could be well equipped on how to deal with such scenarios if locals were trained on how the industry operates.

However, the question still remains: How quickly Zimbabwe is supposed to learn the rules of the game in the diamond playing field?

Otherwise for as long as that is not done there shall be speculations, accusations and blame games against the government by those who are already in the system.