ZANU PF faces ‘test’ over fate of diamond profits

By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
26 February 2014

The ZANU PF government is facing a major test over the fate of diamond sale profits, with millions of dollars being realised from recent sales.

A second auction of diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa alluvial fields that got underway this month in Antwerp, Belgium, saw almost a million carats of diamonds being sold for US$70 million. Six mining companies from the Marange mines contributed to the diamonds that were sold in Belgium over a 10 day period.

In a statement ZANU PF Minister of Mines Walter Chidhakwa said US$10.5 million of this revenue goes to the Treasury from royalties.

The auction follows the decision by the European Union (EU) to remove the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) from its list of targeted restrictive measures. This decision was made last year, soon after the disputed elections that saw ZANU PF resume power, and has received serious criticism for giving those polls credibility.

The decision was followed shortly afterwards by an initial auction of Zim diamonds, which saw about US$10 million being earned. US$1.3 million of that sale was reportedly received by the Treasury.

But there are no signs yet of where and how these diamond profits will be used. A lack of transparency is a key issue that civil society organisations have emphasised is preventing diamond sales from making a difference to the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Top ZANU PF officials have for years been the major beneficiaries of the murky nature of the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where millions of dollars in potential government revenue has been ‘lost’. Watchdog groups have estimated that as much as US$2 billion in diamond profits have gone ‘missing’ since 2008.The top mining firms in the area have also remitted little or nothing to the state coffers, despite the government being a major shareholder in the companies.

Jeffrey Smith, the Africa advocacy officer at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, said diamonds could help turn Zimbabwe around, but there is a “lack of political will.”

“It is a clear cut case of a tragic failure of leadership. There’s massive potential for the revenue from the diamond fields to do a lot of good. But a lack of transparency has compounded the massive corruption scandal that has already rocked the mining industry and speaks a lot of the wider corruption problem in Zimbabwe,” Smith told SW Radio Africa.

Smith agreed that the ZANU PF government now faces a serious test over the fate of the diamond profits, especially now that the gems are being sold on the international market. He urged the government to embrace the World Bank’s principles on ‘best-practice’ in the extractive sector, which aims to improve transparency and accountability in natural resource governance.

“The principles will allow the mining companies and the government to do a number of things, like disclose revenue, and also allow Zimbabweans to know how much the government is generating from the sector,” Smith said.

Meanwhile, there continues to be condemnation of the European sales, with ongoing reports of abuses suffered by diamond panners at the Chiadzwa mines, and the poverty faced by Marange villages relocated as a result of the mining activities.

A recent report by the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) details incidents of assaults, dog attacks and prolonged detentions by security officials working for the mining firms, against people accused of illegal diamond panning. 13 pages of the report details these attacks, which all happened over the last year, with accompanying pictures showing the extent of the injuries people have sustained.

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4 Responsesto “ZANU PF faces ‘test’ over fate of diamond profits”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    Alex Bell

    As you are domiciled in the United Kingdom, kindly tell your readership the revenue the country derives from its oil sales in Scotland. Is it government policy that it advises its nationals how much it realises each time it sells its oil? Alternatively, are the nationals told how many barrels of oil are extracted on a daily basis and how much they are worth in pounds sterling?

    If you answer the above questions satisfactorily, I will be happy to take our debate to another level.

    • Larry King says:

      You are British too, domiciled in Zimbabwe for obvious reasons but you also have a leg in the UK where you spy on Zimbabweans living there. We all know why you, in all your stupidity loves to deviate from the topic, its because you are paid to do so. We Zimbabweans are ten steps ahead of you, if not more, we can tell when you are hiding your party’s shame, or when you want to conceal the truth. The above piece from Alex Bell is not about him or North Sea Oil and the revenue it earns for the Scots.

      But knowing you to be a moron you assume everyone else is one with the exception of your chefs in Zanu PF who you are protecting tooth and nail. Why should Zimbabweans care how much oil earns for the UK, our country does not benefit from this wealth. So what the f#ck are you talking about silly man. We would like to know how much you get paid for spying for the CIO this is more relevant to Zimbabweans than how much sterling oil brings in for the UK. The topic that Alex Bell addressees above is all about Zimbabwean diamonds which rightfully belongs to each and every Zimbabwean. Ever since diamonds were found at Marange your black Zanu PF chefs have helped themselves to this treasure and made themselves rich overnight. Zimbabweans have not smelt a dime from this riches and here you are in your usual buffoonery asking Alex Bell on how much North Sea Oil earns for the people of the UK. Are you not ashamed for asking such foolish questions, with your thick skin this is standard behavior which we have become accustomed to.

      • Chimbwido Warvet says:

        Well, my boy, you are not a Zimbabwean but a rhodie. When Ian Smith died in 1995 all rhodies had died before him. They looted and pillaged our land and mineral resources with impunity all for their own interests and pleasure with very little trickling down to the indigenous people of this country. Today the tables are upside down and the riches they used to enjoy illegally in Rhodesia now Zimbabwe is in the hands of the rightful people and they are now feeling the pain and now want to know how our wealth is being used. What a miserable rat?

        Zimbabwe has no obligation to tell you how much of the diamond proceeds are being utilized to buy military hardware for instance. No country in the western world or the African continent, for example, tells its nationals how it disburses its resources in protecting itself against foreign forces on the African continent or how many helicopters or weapons of mass destruction it has procured in preparing itself militarily against foreign forces on the African continent. If you think you have a constitutional right to know all details on how each dollar from the proceeds of diamonds is utilised, then I believe you must be living on Mars or fools’ paradise. Let me be frank with you that you will not get that information. Giving information of that magnitude to a rhodie who has never been trusted in this country will be pure madness.

        Having said the above, I will not be diverted from asking Alex Bell to answer the questions I have posed above. These questions are pertinent as I have not been informed by the British government on how the proceeds it realises from the sale of our oil in Scotland are disbursed. Such information is crucial and critical if we are to ask the government of Zimbabwe to do the same.

  2. BHUTSU says:

    Alex Bell just rumbles, its known Zim government gets a bigger commision than any other African goverment from diamond sales, and now she writes this… some people just dont want progress in Zimbabwe

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