LOCAL diamond players have accused government of sidelining them and rushing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Belgian diamond players to allow for exportation of gems to Antwerp without adequate information on how the sector operates.
The players who preferred to remain anonymous said the recent trip to Belgium by Mines and Mining Development secretary Francis Gudyanga was ill-timed and premature as the top government officials at the meeting were not abreast with the current position regarding the diamond sector.
Economic analyst Clifford Mutuvira yesterday told NewsDay that Zimbabwe expected to see the diamond sector creating employment for thousands of locals as opposed to signing an MoU intended at exporting raw materials.
He said the move was self-defeating and counter-productive as it would create more employment for the Belgians.
“The trip by the Ministry of Mines was premature. The officials were not equipped with enough information so as to enable them to make informed decisions,” Mutuvira said.
“Our country has already passed the stage of sourcing for expertise in the area of beneficiation to our gems. We have local firms who are already doing the cutting and polishing of rough diamonds as well as making jewellery.
“Before embarking on an unknown expedition, the ministry should have enquired from local industrialists to establish our own capacity than going to attend lessons on what we already have at home.”
Mutuvira further said the idea of creating a market in Antwerp would only serve the interests of few individuals.
A local diamond player who refused to be named said Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa had not lived up to his earlier promise to ensure beneficiation in the diamond sector.
“The minister had vision, but has lost it already. Why would the country carry bags of rough diamonds for sell in Europe when our local economy is in desperate need of employment,” the diamond player said.
“Antwerp officials said Zimbabwe cannot start by running in dealing with diamond, but would need to sell the gems for three years to them and then develop a diamond industry. Is that not a joke?
“Zimbabwe is not only running, but sprinting because we already have expertise in diamond cutting and polishing and jewellery making. We have equipment and skilled labour which is not being utilised.”