via Chinamasa seeks Marange accountability 02/03/2014 by SABC
ZIMBABWE has announced plans to reduce the number of diamond mining companies operating in the country, a move it says will ensure supervision and accountability.
On Friday, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said that monitoring the seven operations has been difficult and that government would soon restructure and consolidate the industry to narrow the number of mines.
His announcement comes amidst a planned total overhaul of the mining sector which authorities say will add value to minerals before they leave the countries. The private sector has welcomed the move.
Announcing a blueprint for greater accountability in a sector that has been accused of gray activities, Chinamasa said that they want to know the production levels. “We want to know the prices the diamonds are disposed of, we want to know the customers.”
According to the government, diamonds contributed less than $200 million to the fiscus last year, amidst claims by Global Witness, an Independent monitor that $2 billion worth of gems is being looted since extraction began in 2006.
Government is pushing for more value addition industries to ensure the minerals leave with higher value. However restructuring the minerals sector will cost a lot of money. The money that the 13 billion economy will have to find offshore.
With poor credit record, blacklisted by World Bank and IMF, Chinamasa says he has had little success even in neighbouring South Africa.
“You have no reason to lump us with the country risk premium when you know how politically stable we are. So there is some discrimination there. They lend to SA companies at very low interest rates and they lend to us almost at punitive interest rates.”
Authorities have found allies, miners have pledged their commitment to fulfilling government’s demands to add value to products locally but they say modalities need to be worked out first.
“This two day discussion points to the need of continued engagement. This is to demonstrate our seriousness in this matter. We are part of the mining team Zimbabwe to develop our country and our region,” Managing Director of Aquarius Platinum, Winston Chitando Mimosa says.
Vision is controversial in global circles but it’s a message that is finding resonance among the millions of Zimbabweans who live on some of the most mineral rich soils in the world but are still waiting to that wealth reflected in their lives.