By Mukasiri Sibanda
With roughly $15 billion allegedly lost from Marange diamonds, the opportunity to fight inequality through domestic resource mobilisation was possibly squandered. All is not lost though. This undesirable situation can be reversed in the quest to fight inequality. Government, therefore, must immediately adopt the following measures to ensure that diamonds champion the fight against inequality in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) must give 10% equity to Marange-Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust (CSOT). This would legally empower the community so that it gets a share of the profit from diamond mining activities in Marange. The softened indigenisation and economic empowerment framework still requires that diamond and platinum sectors cede 10% equity to host communities.
To fully exploit diamonds in Marange in a manner that promotes community access, ownership and control of resources, ZCDC must move with speed to formalise artisanal diamond mining activities. “Indeed, there was greater economic impact from diamonds during times of uncontrolled alluvial panning than what is being realised following introduction of formal diamond mining arrangements,” former Finance minister, Patrick Chinamasa, said in his 2016 National Budget statement.
Formalising artisanal diamond mining resonates well with the Washington Declaration on Integrating Development of Artisanal and Small Scale Diamond Mining with Kimberley Process Implementation, Kimberly Process (KP).
ZCDC must disclose payments made to different government institutions like Mutare Rural District Council (MRDC), various taxes paid to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Ministry of Mines.
This disclosure would help the public connect the dots between diamond mining activities and mobilisation of tax revenue to fund social service delivery.
The Constitution, Section 276 (2) (b) empowers local authorities to mobilise resources from economic activities to fund local service delivery. By disclosing tax contributions to Mutare RDC, ZCDC could acquit itself well on how the entity is contributing to local development rather than glossing over its corporate social responsibility activities. All in all, government must move with speed to implement the extractive industry transparency initiative.
Former companies linked with the looting of Marange diamonds should not be allowed back.