|PM comes face to face with reality|
|Thursday, 01 March 2012 15:51|
BEFORE his last week's maiden tour of the Chiadzwa diamond fields, the Prime Minister, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, was singing a chorus of discord on the goings on at the much-talked about fields. On Thursday, March 10, 2011 at the Harvest House, Mr Tsvangirai issued a Press statement in which he said there was no transparency in what was happening at Chiadzwa.
His Press statement read: "For a long time, our side of government has demanded transparency, especially on the issue of diamonds. In the past few weeks, Zimbabweans have been shocked that there have been various concessions granted to companies other than Mbada and Canadile. These include Anjin, which has been mining for more than 18 months in partnership with the police and the army and has not remitted any cent to Treasury.
"It is obviously surprising how a State organ such as the ZNA could be involved in mining activities. It is also surprising how new concessions could have been granted without the scrutiny of Cabinet committees.
"The public spat between the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development over the $313 million reflects the lack of transparency in respect of diamond revenues. That the Finance Minister has to ask for details of diamond sales when the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority should be at the centre of every sale reflects the opaqueness surrounding the sale of diamonds."
Last week's Prime Minister's visit to Chiadzwa was indeed an eye-opener as he was highly impressed by what he saw and did not hesitate to give the Chiadzwa projects thumbs up.
The companies' joint venture partnerships were also explained, where it was said the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation was in bed with foreign investors in three companies, Mbada Diamonds, Diamond Mining Company and Anjin with a 50-50 shareholder structure.
Marange Resources is a 100 percent Zimbabwean company.
Mr Tsvangirai's tour first took him to the Diamond Mining Company, Mbada, Anjin and finally Marange Resources where he managed to address journalists from media houses operating in Zimbabwe and beyond.
During the tour, Mr Tsvangirai was taken through exercises such as security measures in place at the four companies, which are following to the letter conditions set up by the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, production levels and type of mining operations.
The explanations by the four mining companies' officials left some members of the delegation that had doubts about the mining activities and the so-called leakages satisfied.
"The system here is fool proof and it seems people have been misled. It was an eye opener for some of us," said one of the delegates.
Mr Tsvangirai said: "I and my colleagues in the Government appreciate the contribution that diamond mining is making to our economy. As a country we need to maximise on this.
"As principals, we have revived the re-engage committee to deal with the issue of sanctions. A country that produces oil should not be stopped from selling its product.
"I have to thank the ministers that were here and the various ministries for a job well done. We were here on a fact-finding mission and I am impressed with what I saw."
Recent exploration figures at Chiadzwa indicate that the diamond fields cover 120 000 hectares, up from the original figure of 67 000 hectares.
Of the 120 000 hectares, only 33 000 hectares have been allocated to the four mining companies operating there.
Marange Resources have the largest concession of 9 800ha followed by Mbada Diamonds which has 7 540 hectares.
Mbada Diamonds' mining manager, Mr Gerald Sithole, said they were doing further exploration to determine the primary source of the diamonds.
"We are happy to announce that we have since discovered the primary source of diamonds in our concession, but we cannot tell the real value of the diamonds. This is a huge boost to us because most of the companies mining diamonds in neighbouring countries mine it from the primary source.
"Our diamond ore extraction rate is 1, 5 million tonnes per year. Although we are getting the diamonds, our products fetch between $40 and $80 per carat. We will continue using the latest technology on the market so that we harness all the diamonds for the benefit of the country," he said.
At Anjin, Mr Tsvangirai was told that the company had invested $310 million into their operations.
Anjin is now the largest diamond producing company in the world following its acquisition of new Dense Medium Separation.
The Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Dr Obert Mpofu, said diamond auctions had already started and there had been activity at the newly certified diamond mine DMC.
DMC recently sold diamonds worth $30 million.
Dr Mpofu said diamond sales would be high this year as Anjin and MDC would be selling their stockpiles.
"They have placed us on sanctions as we are trying to raise funding through the sale of our diamonds and that is why they are demonising us for trying to fund economic development and improve the lives of our people," he said.
The companies' corporate social responsibility activities also impressed Mr Tsvangirai and Manicaland Provincial Governor, Cde Chris Mushohwe, who was also part of the delegation, said Mbada Diamonds had undertook to upgrade the Odzi-Marange Road from a gravel to a tarred one, while Marange Resources would take over the Bambazonke-Hotsprings Road.
At Arda Transau, the delegation was impressed by the newly constructed houses, schools and clinic.
Speaking after the tour, Mr Tsvangirai said: "African countries always suffer a curse when it comes to the discovery of diamonds and oil. The discovery of diamonds in Zimbabwe is not a curse, but a blessing to our country's economic opportunities.
"Each and every Zimbabwean should benefit. Since the discovery of the diamonds, the biggest debate in Cabinet was centred on accusing Minister Mpofu of not being transparent on what is happening at Chiadzwa.
"This country is a blessed one and there should be transparency in the way we exploit our resources, marketing and investments.
"I am impressed with the new houses I saw today. We should not reproduce the same pole and dagga houses, which people were staying in before being relocated. From now onwards this should be a thing of the past. The houses here should be used as a resettlement model for all companies wanting to invest in Zimbabwe. Companies should build modern houses for the people," he said.
Mr Tsvangirai said there was no reason why Zimbabwe's economy should not take off.
Mr Tsvangirai was also accompanied by the Deputy Prime Minister, Professor Arthur Mutambara, Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Dr Joseph Made, Minister of Finance, Mr Tendai Biti, Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, Mr Tapiwa Mashakada, Minister of Labour and Social Services, Ms Paurina Mpariwa and Minister of Housing and Social Amenities, Mr Giles Mutsekwa.