The Herald (Harare)

13 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Entrepreneurs Call for Recognition in Diamond Industry

Government should enact policies to develop entrepreneurs who can polish and add value to Zimbabwe's diamonds, experts have said. Speaking at a diamond education seminar at Zimbabwe Diamond Education College in Mount Hampden on Monday, Mr Stephen Muchenje said most European countries were benefiting from Africa at the expense of the Africans.

The seminar was attended by bankers, miners, jewellers and engineers.

"Sixty percent of diamonds produced in the whole world come from Africa but economies are not developing to the advantage of Europe. Nineteen percent of gem quality diamonds are extracted in Africa.

"They are used to beautify jewellery and ornaments but are polished before they are sold back to us and in Europe where they selectively certify and hoard to prejudice African miners," Mr Muchenje said.

He said it was time Zimbabwe started processing diamonds which are mostly exported to Europe by De Beers.

"It is understood some transnational companies started extracting gems from Zimbabwe in the 1950s before taking them to South Africa thereby increasing their controlling powers over our minerals.

"Belgium is a non-producer of diamonds but it realises US$39 billion per year through handling alone. Government must enact policies that allow us to have processing centres, certify our own minerals which can make our minerals appreciate value to increase revenue for the country and create employment for people," he said.

Businessman Mr Lovemore Kurotwi said indigenisation must pave way for Zimbabweans to add value to minerals.

"We fully support government's indigenisation programme and we hope it will enable us as indigenous players to play a role in revenue generation. That can be enabled through establishment of our own diamond industry. As blacks, we believe we must fully benefit from the minerals extracted from within our country through value addition in the form of polishing precious stones and designing jewellery," Mr Kurotwi said.

Visiting corporate trainer and president of the South African Creativity Foundation Dr Kobus Neethling said Zimbabwe had the knowledge required of entrepreneurs in the diamond industry.

"There is a need to develop an attitude that the country has skills required in the industry. There must be a passion for creativity if Zimbabwe is to fully benefit from its minerals," he said.

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