BY KENNETH NYANGANI
The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) yesterday said the decision by the United States to issue a withhold release order (WRO) for artisanal rough cut diamonds from Marange was impacting negatively on the country’s diamond revenue earnings.
Speaking at the fourth diamond mining indaba in Mutare, ZCDC chairman Killian Ukama said the negative publicity had led to international buyers offering low prices for the country’s gems.
Ukama claimed some civic society organisations were peddling falsehoods about Marange diamonds.
“I think these lies are being driven by a common purpose or agenda. This has resulted in some buyers wanting to buy our diamonds at a discount,” he said
“I am worried to read headlines about ZCDC. There is negative publicity and lack of trust which is having serious implications on the diamond sector and revenue,” he said.
The US recently issued a WRO for artisanal rough cut diamonds from Marange on allegations that forced labour was used in their production.
ZCDC chief security officer Elias Mvere said illegal miners remained a cause of concern to the operations of the company and continued to be a threat to the economy.
He said that they managed to arrest and bust criminal syndicates involved in theft and vandalism of mine assets and equipment.
“We would like to applaud the community for their continued support which has helped us to thwart illegal panner intrusions through reliable and accurate information,” Mvere said.
He said they had also arrested their own employees, security guards and State security operatives for colluding with illegal diamond miners.
“We have managed to arrest some people in possession of rough cut diamonds in the concession following tip-offs,” Mvere said.
He said during the last mining indaba held early this year, ZCDC had made 1 375 arrests, but the number has risen to 3 259.
“Worryingly, only 21% of the arrests were illegal panners from outside Manicaland and this represents an increase in illegal panner arrests in the province. This highlights the need to further engage the local leadership so that the cases of illegal panning are eliminated,” he said.