Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says there is a need to curb abuse in the marketing of diamonds in order to plug loopholes and ensure the country is not shortchanged.
Tsvangirai told delegates at the just-ended fourth session of the KM Financial Solutions CEO Roundtable, there was nothing wrong with the ongoing mining operations in Chiadzwa.
“In my own assessment, the problem is not at the mining operations,” Tsvangirai said. “If there is any abuse it is at the marketing level. We also have to look at the issues of concessions.
“If there are any concessions, they will have to come through the Cabinet committee on diamond mining,” he said.
Tsvangirai was responding to a question on what had to be done in Chiadzwa for the mining operations to aid the economic recovery.
Last week Tsvangirai accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu and Finance minister Tendai Biti, among others, toured Marange to familiarise themselves with the operations there.
The PM, however, expressed concern at the rate at which diamonds were being extracted.
“There are people scooping the earth at a very accelerated pace,” he said.
“I stood there and said what do we have to show for all the economic activities taking place here?”
Tsvangirai said diamonds revenue must contribute meaningfully to the fiscus.
Mutambara said the country should be critical when it comes to awarding contracts.
“One company in Chiadzwa invested $43 million and will be making a billion,” Mutambara said.
“They will pay the $43 million after two sales.
“We are being shortchanged. We don’t have foresight. We have people in the government who don’t understand money. That is financial illiteracy!
“Some of the people who negotiate are not financially literate.”
Mutambara said the government was signing contracts with companies where it held 50% stakes and questioned why the investors were not paying for claims.
“We are having shareholder arrangement where the claim is for nothing. We are not being clever around natural resources and we are getting peanuts.
“The guys get the claim for free and use the claim they got from Zimbabwe for free to look for money in Australia,” he said.
On empowerment, Mutambara said the initiative was good, but there was need to first grow the cake before sharing it.
“Yes, to empowerment, but we must grow the cake. There is no point in sharing the small cake. Let’s share the growth,” he said.
Biti said there was need for the government to come up with a specialised agency under the Mines ministry to regulate diamond mining.
He said his visit to Chiadzwa last week, showed that despite huge mining activities in the area, surrounding communities had nothing to show for it.
“Whilst I was happy to see mining operations in the area my heart bleeds to see the ripping apart of the land,” he said.
“We have to have a specialised agency under the Ministry of Mines for diamonds, to regulate the mining standards and to put mechanism on equity and how to prevent leakages on diamonds,” he said.
He added a sovereign wealth fund should be in place to help future generations as the lifespan for diamond mining was usually around 25 years.