Mega deals intact despite Chiadzwa takeover: Minister

Mega deals intact despite Chiadzwa takeover: Minister | The Herald February 27, 2016

Felex Share Senior Reporter—
The mega deals signed between Zimbabwe and China are intact and the goings on in Chiadzwa diamond fields will not affect agreed programmes and projects, Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has said.In an interview on Thursday, Minister Mumbengegwi said it was “mischievous” for someone to conclude that the investment decision of one or two companies would affect the mega deals.

This comes after private media claimed that the mega deals were now in doubt after Government ordered the companies mining in Chiadzwa to cease operations and vacate the area within three months.

The firms, which include Mbada Diamonds, Diamond Mining Company, Jinan and Anjin, had not renewed their licences as stipulated by the Mines and Minerals Act.

This saw Government resolving to take over the diamond fields to be run under Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company, consolidation which the companies resisted.

The merger was meant to bring accountability and transparency in the operations of the diamond companies.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the move by Government had not been done in the spirit of fighting or hostility and hence would not affect relations between China and Zimbabwe.

“There is no reason why the decision of one or two companies can affect the relationship between countries who have been close over years,” he said.

“They have not been expelled, no, they were invited, but they chose not to be part of the consolidation, which is their right to do so. But for anyone to suggest that this would affect agreed programmes and projects or indeed the relations between our two countries, I think it smacks of mischief.”

He said the deals had been agreed at the highest level, with Presidents Mugabe and Xi Jinping reciprocating visits in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Minister Mumbengegwi said the issue of diamonds was an “extremely delicate and sensitive matter.”

“Zimbabwe is not the first country to consolidate this sector of the economy,” he said.

“In fact many feel that it came a bit late. And what consolidation means is that you take on board all those who have been operating in the sector and become part of a bigger unit and continue their work. But of course the consolidation cannot be made compulsory. It is entirely up to individual enterprises to decide whether or not they want to become part of this much larger entity.”

He went on: “Now those who have decided not to be shareholders in the diamond industry of Zimbabwe, well, it is their choice but definitely they were invited. It is something that was not done in a spirit of hostility or fighting or anything.”

He said each company had its own investment priorities and would not be forced to go against its primacies.

“If you refuse to be part of a consolidated company surely you can not stay because you have opted not to be part of the process,” Minister Mumbengegwi said.

“So it is not a question of being kept out, it is a question of a company making an investment decision not to invest in this particular enlarged consolidated company which is going to be responsible for all our diamond resources in Zimbabwe.”

He said Zimbabwe and China had worked closely since the liberation struggle and would not be distracted from strengthening the relations.