More transparency for diamonds: civil society

Despite the fact that the government has organised tours of the Marange diamond fields for journalists, politicians and members of civic society, critics are unconvinced and have demanded greater transparency.

“The tour of the Chiadzwa diamond fields did not give us a clear
picture of what is happening. There is no transparency and given a
chance we would like to go again and interact with villagers around
the fields whose rights we feel are still being abused,” said Nickson
 Nyikadzino of Crisis Coalition who went on a guided tour of the fields last week.

Experts say the diamond fields could produce
40 million carats annually with a net worth of $2 billion per year, 
but there is still a lot of skepticism among local organisations that human rights are being trampled.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara accompanied 
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to one of the biggest diamond
finds in contemporary history last month. He reported that companies in Chiadzwa were
 ripping the country off.

“We are being savaged by the players in Chiadzwa because we are
signing foolish claims. We give them a claim worth billions for free.
They come here to mine our resources after investing only $30 million
and they will pay off their investment in just two sales,” Mutambara

Cephas Zinhumwe the Director of National Association of Non
Governmental Organisations, urged the government to open its eyes.

“The tour was guided and it was not enough to change our perception of 
the fields. We are concerned about the lack of transparency,” said

Exploiting resources

There are currently five companies exploiting diamonds in Chiadzwa, namely Mbada Diamond, Anjin, Pure Dime, Marange Resources and
Sino Zimbabwe. However, the composition of the companies has been an
issue of concern.

A comprehensive study by Global Witness, the first of its kind in
Zimbabwe, revealed that diamond mining in Chidzwa was characterised by
 sleazy and shoddy arrangements between President Robert Mugabe and his
 allies, mostly from Asia.

The study revealed that one company, Mbada Holdings, has among its 
directors members of Mugabe’s security services who have previously 
been implicated in vote-rigging and political violence in the run-up 
to elections.

The other is part of Mbada is owned by companies registered in tax 
havens such as Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands, making its
beneficiaries virtually impossible to identify, according to Global

 The civil society managed to interact with Mbada Holdings, Marange 
Diamonds and Pure Dime, a joint venture between Zimbabwe
Mining Development Company and a Lebanese company. They said the
companies could not reveal how much they were making, or who was taking
the proceeds.

“The Civil Societies Organisations could not access mine level
data and therefore could not establish the quantity of diamonds
produced. All companies visited claimed that this information was not
available during the time of the visit. There is need to improve the
issues of transparency and accountability on production level data,
 revenues generated and allocation of mining rights,” said Shamiso 
Mutisi of the Zimbabwe Environment Law Association.

Tsvangirai had to seek permission from a subordinate Mines 
Minister Obert Mpofu in order to tour the alluvial diamond fields
after having been denied access since the formation of the fibrous
 government three years ago.

His secretary General in the MDC, Tendai Biti, has said before that diamond money was not reaching the treasury
and he did not know where the money
was going.

“The heated debate in the Cabinet is who is benefiting from the
country’s wealth. The bottom line is that our country
is blessed, but we must show transparency in the way we market, exploit
and trade the gems as a country,” he said.

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