3 May 2017
HARARE – As Zimbabwe’s economy continues to suffer and cash shortages
escalate to alarming levels, President Robert Mugabe must move swiftly to
save the diamond industry, which was for long a source of cash for the
economy before government decided to forcibly nationalise the industry.
It is a fact that since the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC)
took over from Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments,
Diamond Mining Company, Jinan and Kusena in Chiadzwa in February 2016,
cash shortages worsened mainly because ZCDC, by government’s admission,
has failed to produce enough diamonds to satisfy the nation’s cash needs.
Mines minister Walter Chidakwa, who has steadfastly stood by the
controversial decision to nationalise the diamond firms, must be held
accountable for the mess the industry finds itself in.
Recently, we carried a story in which it was revealed that before the
seizure of the mining firms, the country used to sell 500 000 carats a
month raising at the very minimum $25 million cash per month.
All this is now history as production has gone down dramatically with the
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa recently confirming that ZCDC had
failed to produce enough diamonds as expected.
If government and Mugabe in particular are serious about economic
turnaround and if they want to ease cash shortages, it is imperative that
they fix the diamond industry first.
ZCDC was expected to be the game changer in Chiadzwa after government did
not renew licences of former miners on the basis that they were producing
way below projections with Chidakwa claiming that the new government-owned
firm would produce far more.
But in shocking developments last year, ZCDC produced a paltry 924 388
carats of diamonds, 62 percent lower than the 3,2 million carats produced
the previous year by the ousted Chiadzwa miners.
This 924 388 carats were produced by the ousted diamond miners in just two
months – so who is fooling who here?
Chinamasa in admitting failure by ZCDC at a business meeting in Mutare
recently said: “As of now, the diamond sector is dead. I used to visit
Mutare during the hype of diamond mining and one could feel the diamond
money. We need to come back to that situation again.”
An admission of failure by the minister means that Mugabe must intervene
and call Chidakwa to order.
It is now clear that the Chiadzwa mines were grabbed not necessarily to
improve productivity in the industry but for other reasons which are not
This is surely clear mismanagement of the economy and dereliction of duty
and should be corrected.