The Sunday Mail
A fresh attempt to smear the country’s diamond sector has emerged with the culprits bent on scuppering partnership manoeuvres between Zimbabwe and Botswana where the later will offer expert support in sorting and valuating local gems.
An unspecified intelligence report and mysterious sources last week alleged that the country could still be losing millions of dollars through diamond revenue leakages.
The report also painted a bad picture of the agreement signed between Botswana and Zimbabwe, suggesting that the state owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) could have been short changed.
In an interview with The Sunday Mail yesterday, ZCDC chief executive Dr Morris Mpofu said the report was misleading.
“In order to tap into Botswana’s experience in diamond mining, in 2017 the Government of Zimbabwe engaged the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security in Botswana to facilitate engagements between its State entity Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) and other Botswana State entities such as Minerals Development Corporation of Botswana (MDCB), Diamond Trading Company (DTC) and the Botswana Diamond Hub,” he said.
“ZCDC also toured DTC, which is the largest rough diamond processing center in the world, where cleaning, sorting and valuation of the entire Debswana production is done.
“DTCB has state of the art technology in security, cleaning, sorting and valuation of rough diamonds and also handles the international sales function for diamonds from Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.
“In 2017, ZCDC conducted a corporate diagnosis which identified bottlenecks in downstream processes such as cleaning, sorting, valuation and sales framework of rough diamonds. As a result, significant value was lost in downstream processes due to inefficiencies and rectifiable challenges.
“The bottlenecks in downstream processes led to poor branding of Marange diamonds, consequently resulting in underpricing.
“In March 2017, ZCDC took a deliberate strategy to exit the market and suspend all diamond sales until all the major diamond value management bottlenecks were addressed through the realignment and reorientation of downstream processes to match international standards and best practices.” Dr Mpofu said contrary to the suggestion that Zimbabwe would ship its diamonds to Botswana for cutting and polishing, ZCDC has plans to set up its own cutting and polishing centre for the beneficiation of the precious stones locally.
ZCDC has budgeted $5 million for the construction of its own Sorthouse infrastructure and to equip it with state of the art technology and systems as observed at DTC in Gaborone.
“In order to ensure growth of downstream industries across, ZCDC is spearheading the establishment of a Gemology Centre in Mutare whose planning is at an advanced stage.
Since the ZCDC assumed control of Marange diamonds, following the jettisoning of companies that mined in the area, the state entity has brought in sanity and some of its achievements to date include doubling of diamond output to 1, 6 million carats in 2017, while production is expected to further grow to 3 million carats 2018.