“The tour of the Chiadzwa diamond fields did not give us a clearÃ¢â‚¬Â¨picture of what is happening. There is no transparency and given aÃ¢â‚¬Â¨chance we would like to go again and interact with villagers aroundÃ¢â‚¬Â¨the fields whose rights we feel are still being abused,” said NicksonÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ Nyikadzino of Crisis Coalition who went on a guided tour of the fields last week.
Experts say the diamond fields could produceÃ¢â‚¬Â¨40 million carats annually with a net worth of $2 billion per year, Ã¢â‚¬Â¨but there is still a lot of skepticism among local organisations that human rights are being trampled.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara accompanied Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to one of the biggest diamondÃ¢â‚¬Â¨finds in contemporary history last month. He reported that companies in Chiadzwa wereÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ ripping the country off.
“We are being savaged by the players in Chiadzwa because we areÃ¢â‚¬Â¨signing foolish claims. We give them a claim worth billions for free.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨They come here to mine our resources after investing only $30 millionÃ¢â‚¬Â¨and they will pay off their investment in just two sales,” MutambaraÃ¢â‚¬Â¨added.
Cephas Zinhumwe the Director of National Association of NonÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Governmental Organisations, urged the government to open its eyes.
“The tour was guided and it was not enough to change our perception of Ã¢â‚¬Â¨the fields. We are concerned about the lack of transparency,” saidÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ Zinhumwe.
There are currently five companies exploiting diamonds in Chiadzwa, namely Mbada Diamond, Anjin, Pure Dime, Marange Resources andÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Sino Zimbabwe. However, the composition of the companies has been anÃ¢â‚¬Â¨issue of concern.
A comprehensive study by Global Witness, the first of its kind inÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Zimbabwe, revealed that diamond mining in Chidzwa was characterised byÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ sleazy and shoddy arrangements between President Robert Mugabe and hisÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ allies, mostly from Asia.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨The study revealed that one company, Mbada Holdings, has among its Ã¢â‚¬Â¨directors members of Mugabe’s security services who have previously Ã¢â‚¬Â¨been implicated in vote-rigging and political violence in the run-up Ã¢â‚¬Â¨to elections.
The other is part of Mbada is owned by companies registered in tax Ã¢â‚¬Â¨havens such as Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands, making itsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨beneficiaries virtually impossible to identify, according to GlobalÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ Witness.Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ The civil society managed to interact with Mbada Holdings, Marange Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Diamonds and Pure Dime, a joint venture between ZimbabweÃ¢â‚¬Â¨Mining Development Company and a Lebanese company. They said theÃ¢â‚¬Â¨companies could not reveal how much they were making, or who was takingÃ¢â‚¬Â¨the proceeds.
“The Civil Societies Organisations could not access mine levelÃ¢â‚¬Â¨data and therefore could not establish the quantity of diamondsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨produced. All companies visited claimed that this information was notÃ¢â‚¬Â¨available during the time of the visit. There is need to improve theÃ¢â‚¬Â¨issues of transparency and accountability on production level data,Ã¢â‚¬Â¨ revenues generated and allocation of mining rights,” said Shamiso Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Mutisi of the Zimbabwe Environment Law Association.
Tsvangirai had to seek permission from a subordinate Mines Ã¢â‚¬Â¨Minister Obert Mpofu in order to tour the alluvial diamond fieldsÃ¢â‚¬Â¨after having been denied access since the formation of the fibrousÃ¢â‚¬Â¨ government three years ago.
His secretary General in the MDC, Tendai Biti, has said before that diamond money was not reaching the treasuryÃ¢â‚¬Â¨and he did not know where the moneyÃ¢â‚¬Â¨was going.
“The heated debate in the Cabinet is who is benefiting from theÃ¢â‚¬Â¨country’s wealth. The bottom line is that our countryÃ¢â‚¬Â¨is blessed, but we must show transparency in the way we market, exploitÃ¢â‚¬Â¨and trade the gems as a country,” he said.Post published in: News