By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
23 May 2014
The cash-strapped ruling ZANU PF government has issued an order to all diamond miners in the country to sell their gems through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines, Francis Gudyanga, reportedly wrote a letter to the companies explaining that the central bank will use the diamonds to secure a government loan.
According to media reports Gudyanga instructed producers to ‘prepare parcels of all your currently produced diamonds which must be sorted and evaluated with the involvement of the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe. It is expected payments to the diamond companies will be made soon after.”
The central bank will keep the diamonds and use them to ‘securitize a government loan’ according to the letter from Gudyanga.
Last month government called time on the mining firms operating in the Marange diamonds fields in Chiadzwa, indicating that only one company will remain operating there. Seven firms operate in Chiadzwa and these are Anjin Investments, Diamond Mining Company, Gye Nyame, Jinan, Kusena, Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds.
There is speculation that Mbada diamonds, linked to Robert Mugabe and chaired by the multi-millionaire retired Air Vice Marshall Robert Mhlanga, will be the only company continuing to mine in the area.
Lack of transparency surrounding diamond revenues has been a matter of critical public interest. It has deprived the Treasury of much needed revenue and amplified concerns raised by the opposition MDC-T that much of the money from the diamonds only goes to fund ZANU PF and its various cronies.
Economist and MDC-T MP Eddie Cross wrote in April that at least $7 billion in surplus revenue has been siphoned off from the operation in eight years. He said he estimated that well over 100 million carats were extracted, with a face value of $12 billion during the same period.
Some individuals in President Robert Mugabe’s cabinet and senior officers in the armed forces have accumulated vast wealth, adding to suspicions that the country’s diamond revenues are not being accounted for or managed in the public’s interest.