MILITARY personnel have a right to be involved in the running of the economy to foster national development, Marange Resources chairperson Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube has said. Speaking at the official opening of his firm's offices in Harare yesterday, Rtd Col Dube said there was nothing wrong with one being a soldier while serving the country's key economic sectors.
Marange Resources had been using rented offices since inception two years ago.
The company has since acquired new offices worth US$2 million.
Rtd Col Dube said military personnel involved in national affairs begin with the President to various Government arms.
"I want to dispel rumours that soldiers are being deployed in most key economic positions in the country. This is not true.
"Who is not a soldier and what is wrong about being a soldier? Is the President not a soldier?"
He said President Mugabe led guerrilla warfare during the liberation struggle.
"How could you lead guerrilla warfare if you are not a soldier?"
Rtd Col Dube's remarks put paid to allegations from Western organisations claiming that the army had taken over running Zimbabwe's economy, especially in administering Chiadzwa diamonds.
In March, Western-funded non-governmental organisations spoke against Rtd Col Dube's appointment as Marange Resources chairman.
Rtd Col Dube said his firm consistently remitted royalties and met other statutory obligations.
He said Marange Resources had so far remitted US$78 million to the fiscus.
Rtd Col Dube said since his appointment, Marange had boosted monthly production from 47 000 carats to 100 000 carats.
"We are targeting at producing 200 000 carats per month before the end of the month and next year we are looking at a higher figure," he said.
Rtd Col Dube said the company had invested in modern equipment that would enable them to contribute significantly to the fiscus starting next year.
He, however, said world diamond prices had slumped from the range of US$70 to about US$50 per carat.
Rtd Col Dube said the prices had affected their operations because production costs remained high.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu said illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe were hindering trade in diamonds.
"Sanctions imposed on the country by the United States of America and the European Union are still the main threat to Zimbabwe's diamond trade.
"This has now been covertly extended to customers who are buying from the country and face the risk of blacklisting in the US and EU markets."
He, however, commended Marange Resources for producing positive results despite the devastating illegal sanc-tions.
Minister Mpofu recently announced that Zimbabwe would not meet the projected US$600 million target due to the illegal sanctions.
He said diamond customers were subjected to the US Office of Foreign Asset Control restrictions where their funds would be confiscated en-route to Zimbabwe.