Shut up on diamond money

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu said Cabinet ministers have no right to demand accountability on proceeds from the mining industry because they have not made any meaningful investments towards reviving the sector.

Mpofu, who was addressing guests at the official opening of this years Mine Entra in Bulawayo on Thursday, said he was surprised that mining had become the talking point in the country with all government ministers demanding a stake from it.
Mining has become the most topical sector of the economy, he said.

Everyone who wants to talk about the economy talks about mining, even if they have not sought clearance from the minister concerned.

In an apparent broadside at Finance minister Tendai Biti, Mpofu said: What worries me most is that whoever speaks loudest about mining has not contributed a penny to the mining sector, as they have done with the rest of the economy.

Look at all the presentations; the National Budget, the MTP (Medium-Term Plan) and the Mid-Term Budget Review. They all complain about mining saying it is not giving much to the economy. You cannot reap where you have not sown.

We need to be fair to the mining sector. Small-scale miners are not getting any support even from banks, except a few.

That is why I bought a bank to support them, said Mpofu, adding that the mining sector had grown by about 60% last year and contributed 13% to the Gross Domestic Product.

Biti is on record demanding accountability on proceeds from diamond sales and accusing diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa of shortchanging the economy by remitting peanuts.

Presenting his State of the Economy Report for March 2012, Biti, said: There are challenges of opaqueness. As Ministry of Finance, we fear that there might be a parallel government in respect of where the revenue is going and not coming to Treasury. This economy needs every resource it can get including diamond revenue.

Diamond revenue has been under-performing since January 2012, with only $30,4 million received by treasury for the period January to March 2012. This is against a target of $122,5 million.

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