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Mines Ministry unaware of diamond policy assistance to Zim … despite Emmerson Mnangagwa’s claims

by Kelvin Chiringa

The Ministry of mines and energy has denied knowledge of any assistance being rendered to the Zimbabwean government with regards to coming up with a comprehensive diamond policy in spite of claims by president Emmerson Mnangagwa in the country’s state controlled newspaper, The Herald.  

The Zimbabwean interim president was quoted a few weeks ago saying that his country had started discussions with Namibia and Botswana in connection with coming up with its own diamond policy.

“In Zimbabwe, yes we have diamonds, but we do not really have a diamond policy. We are now crafting the policy, discussing with Botswana, Namibia and Angola to assist us in formulating a diamond policy for Zimbabwe,” said Mnangagwa.

It is not clear yet whether Mnangagwa’s government has started engaging Namibia or not, but the ministry has suggested that it was not in the know of any overtures from the Zimbabwean counterparts on the said policy. 

Responding to a question sent by this publication, the ministry’s communications officer, Andreas Simon replied in an email: “Thank you for your enquiry.  Kindly be informed that the Ministry of Mines and Energy is not aware of such a collaboration.” 

However, the Zimbabwean statesman who is keen to optimise value from the country’s diamonds that have been fetching poor prices indicated that “currently, there is discussion between my Minister of Mines and the young man here (Botswana’s Minister of Mines) so that we bring our diamonds from Zimbabwe to be processed here.”

Zimbabwe discovered alluvium diamonds at its Marange fields which spurred illegal miners into action before the state called them to order in order to officially begin exploiting the fields for the benefit of the entire economy.

However, the country’s state-apparatus cracked down on the miners with brutality, leading to killings which saw the minerals being labelled as blood diamonds.

Human rights groups say over 200 people were killed at the diamonds fields, while thousands were maimed, tortured and brutalised in Marange.

But, Mnangagwa is bent on redressing this by sanitising the diamond space and channeling them into the global market where prices are favourable. 

“It is anticipated that roping in Botswana’s expertise will augur well for Zimbabwe, which has been selling its diamonds at prices around US$50 per carat, although there is potential to get much higher earnings,” reports The Herald.

Revenue from the Marange fields is said to have lined private pockets of powerfully connected political elites with allegations of smuggling and corruption marking the entire chaos until then president Mugabe admitted in public that Zimbabwe had lost US$15 billion in diamond revenue.

The loss came at a time when the country’s economy was in free-fall, with a collapsed health sector that needed more than US$12 billion  to put it back on its feet, rampant unemployment and massive company closures that saw retrenchments.

The US$15 billion loss in revenue haunted Mugabe until he threw in the towel when the military intervened.

The loss was also at the back of the ruling Zanu PF party having promised to deliver 2.2 million jobs.