'Diamond revenue to date not anywhere near $15bn'

'Diamond revenue to date not anywhere near $15bn'
Published: 25 February 2018 (275 Views)
THE Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has revealed that the country has to date sold diamonds worth $2,4 billion as calls become louder for investigations into the alleged $15 billion diamond revenue said to be missing.

MMCZ acting general manager Masimba Chandavengerwa told the Temba Mliswa-led Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines on Friday that the parastatal marketed all diamond deposits from Chiadzwa from all the seven companies that were mined there, resulting in 51 million carats being sold since 2006.

"The total caratage from 2006 to 2017 in our books are 51 060 095,92 and we marketed and sold these diamonds resulting in sales of $2 429 733 333, 87," Chandavengerwa said.

MPs then grilled him over revelations by businessman Lovemore Kurotwi that his diamond cutting and polishing school was struggling to get diamonds through MMCZ to train their students.

Kurotwi claimed that while he was being denied access to the gems, former Mines ministry secretary Francis Gudyanga flew to China where government sent students to study diamond cutting and polishing and agreed to supply the Chinese diamond cutting school with 10 000 carats of diamonds.

"A number of students went for training at an institution in China, and if government says they want products for training of Zimbabwean students to be involved in the value addition and beneficiation process, it is something that MMCZ would embrace because one major challenge in the country is that we lack skills in that area," Chandavengerwa said.

He claimed that the diamonds that went to China were purchased through a tender process and evaluated by the MMCZ in terms of their worth.

MPs expressed concern over the alleged smuggling of Zimbabwe's diamonds to neighbouring countries like Mozambique and South Africa.

The MMCZ were also asked to explain if they had in their custody Kurotwi's 1,7 million carats mined by his company Canadile, and confiscated by former Mines minister Obert Mpofu when he suspended Canadile's operations.

Chandavengerwa said the diamonds were brought to MMCZ after confiscation and were sold.

"When operations of Canadile were suspended we had just concluded the sale of their diamonds. We could not invoice those diamonds to the client who won the bid to buy them because of the impasse. We were then instructed by ZMDC [Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation] to invoice them in the name of Marange Resources," Chandavengerwa said.

But, members of the Mines Portfolio Committee said the move was tantamount to theft, and revealed unscrupulous practices by government at that time, which could have been the reason why the country never attracted investors.

Chandavengerwa claimed that Canadile was in a joint venture with Marange Resources and that the transaction was above board.

But, Kurotwi had told MPs that he has not recovered the money from the sale of the 1,7 million carats, which he estimated at $150 million.

- the standard

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