Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara told Parliament yesterday the country sold out its rich diamond claims for peanuts, hence the little revenue inflows from the precious stones.
Mutambara made the remarks while responding to a question by Mutare South MP Fred Kanzama who wanted to know whether the visit to Chiadzwa by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and some ministers had helped the country unlock the true value of its diamond reserves.
The Deputy Premier said one of the companies that got claims in Chiadzwa diamond fields invested a paltry $43 million but was likely to reap about half a billion dollars over a four-year period.
“The company invested $43 million and they got a claim for free because it was worth half a billion dollars over four years,” said Mutambara.
“After two sales of diamonds, the company would have recouped their investment and that is a travesty of justice in this country.”
He accused government officials of rushing to sign the concessions without due diligence.
“The Zimplats claim was worth $4 billion, but Zimplats brought $700 million, of which $400 million was borrowed through the banks, and so it means they only brought $300 million from their own pockets.
So, we gave them $4 billion for free,” said Mutambara.
He said the other “dumb deal” was that for Essar where iron ore worth $20 billion was never mentioned in the deal.
“We have had another dumb deal at Essar where iron ore worth $20 billion was never spoken of and we must always insist that our claim should be more than 51% so that we get value from our natural resources,” he said.
Mutambara added there was need to involve Parliament in negotiations for huge mining contracts.
“When we negotiate, we should do it transparently and deploy technocrats to advise us how best we can deal with these foreigners so that this country is not prejudiced,” he said.