Then mines minister Obert Mpofu even boasted that the country would never, again, need to beg for financial assistance.
But 10 years later, the alluvial diamonds are reportedly exhausted and government struggles to pay its employees; the economy is deep in the mire and unemployment is estimated at more than 85 percent.
In his 92 birthday interview with State media, President Mugabe conceded what the opposition and other commentators have long stated.
â€œWe have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2-billion, yet we think more than $15-billion has been earned,” Mugabe told state television.
In a statement this week, the opposition MDC-T party which, while sharing power with Mugabeâ€™s Zanu PF party, repeatedly complained that diamond proceeds were being diverted from treasury said it held the Zanu PF leader responsible for the scandal.
â€œThe MDC holds Mugabe and his entire Zanu PF regime solely and wholly responsible for the mess in Marange,â€ said MDC-T spokesman Obert Gutu.
â€œWe have stated it before, and we repeat it here and now, Mugabe is no longer in full and effective control of the country.
â€œThe deep-rooted factionalism that is tearing Zanu PF apart has literally made it impossible for Mugabe, at the very advanced age of 92, to efficiently and effectively discharge his duties as Head of State.â€
The state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) was involved in most of the Marange mining operations through 50-50 joint ventures with private companies handed the concessions in a process the MDC-T described as â€œopaque.â€
â€œIt is more than apparent that right from the outset, the manner in which mining licences were awarded to the various mining companies at Marange/Chiadzwa lacked transparency and accountability,â€ said Gutu.
â€œThere was no public tender system that was instituted before the afore-mentioned diamond mining licences were awarded.
â€œEverything was done secretively and as a result, it was always going to be very difficult to enforce transparency and good corporate governance consistent with international best practice.â€
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa recently ordered all the companies out of Marange in attempt to reorganise the mining operations in a manner more beneficial to the country.
Too late, said Gutu.
â€œIn a desperate move purportedly aimed at restoring sanity within the diamond mining industry in Marange, the government recently cancelled all licences that had been granted to the various mining companies.
â€œNot surprisingly, a number of these diamond mining companies have since resorted to litigation in order to enforce what they claim to be their rights that were infringed by the governmentâ€™s rather draconian and unprecedented action.
â€œSince the court cases are still sub judice, the MDC will not give its own interpretation of the law suits. Suffice to state that the MDC strongly advocates for respect for the rule of law and property rights.â€
The Marange scandal, Gutu added, is evidence that President Mugabe is no longer fit to remain in office.
â€œIt is apparent that there are some shadowy and Mafia-like forces that are now in de facto control of the country,â€ he said.
â€œIn order to save Zimbabwe from a complete and irretrievable breakdown, the MDC calls upon parliamentarians, across the political divide, to do the patriotic and honourable thing of immediately impeaching President Mugabe.
â€œThe old man is certainly no longer fit and proper to remain in office as the countryâ€™s President. He has totally and hopelessly failed to discharge his duties as Head of State.â€
Post published in: Business