via ‘Mining merger could be costly to govt’ – NewsDay Zimbabwe April 27, 2015
THE consolidation of the diamond mining companies in Zimbabwe could result in massive revenue losses, poor redress of human and environmental rights among others, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), has warned.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
In a report titled ‘Mergers in Zimbabwe’s diamond sector set to evade human rights due diligence’ released last week, the environmental watchdog noted that the government could come out as the biggest loser under new arrangement.
The Mines and Mining Development ministry recently announced plans to merge all diamond mining companies in the country to improve accountability in the sector following reports that most miners in the Marange area had syphoned out large quantities of unprocessed of the precious stone.
After realising that the sector was not bringing in desired results, government then decided to merge the companies as a way of promoting transparency and accountability.
However, several watchdogs have queried the manner in which the merger was being handled as others felt the government would be further prejudiced by unscrupulous investors.
“The reluctance by government to undertake comprehensive audits in Marange diamond mining firms before the mergers confirms government’s complicity in concealing what could be described as the most heinous economic crime against the people of Zimbabwe since independence,” the report noted.
“Zimbabwe realised more than $1,7 billion from diamond exports from 2010 to 2014 but less than $200 million in taxes, royalties and dividend was remitted to government. This abhorrent gap between revenue generated and revenue remitted to Treasury is evidence that government misappropriated its 50% shareholding in diamond mining companies to individuals for selfish gains. Some state officials have been fingered in smuggling of Marange diamonds where over $2 billion worth of diamonds are suspected to have disappeared since 2010.”
CRD also accused the government of being silent on how the new conglomerate will address human rights violations which has grossly affected innocent members from the surrounding communities, mine workers and artisanal miners.
The government has also been challenged to disclose how it will integrate local communities, both in Chiadzwa and those relocated in Arda Transau, as partners in the exploitation of their natural resource since most of the companies have failed to undertake sustainable development projects for the community.
Questions have also been asked on how the government intends to recover the $50 million promised to the villagers under the Zimunya –Marange Community Share Ownership Trust.