13 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Masimirembwa Denies Looting

Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC)'s board chairperson, Godwills Masimi-rembwa, has denied suggestions that diamonds were being looted from Chiadzwa to fund a parallel government structure for ZANU-PF.

Masimirembwa, who was addressing the Press Club in Mutare last week, said diamond revenue was being accounted for fully and that it was untrue that the ZMDC and its mining partners were looting gemstones to fund any political party.

The ZMDC chairperson accused Finance Minister, Tendai Biti of peddling lies by claiming that diamond revenue was not being remitted to Treasury.

"There has been a serious misunderstanding between us (ZMDC), or say the Ministry of Mines and Treasury. But I think it's more on political grounds than on factual grounds.

"If you look at the revenues from diamonds, firstly, the government deducts every pound of sell, 15 percent for royalties. So if you make a sell of US$10 million, 15 percent is automatically deducted and goes to Zimra as royalties. Then you do various other deductions and the balance that remains is what you then share with the investors," he explained.

"But there are other people in the Ministry of Finance who think that when you make a sell of US$10 million, you split it in half (between) the investor (and government)," said Masimirembwa.

He said ZMDC had declared its dividends to government since diamond mining started.

Masimirembwa said sanctions against Marange diamonds meant that Zimbabwe's gemstones fetched lower prices on the international market.

He challenged Biti to source for better paying clients since ZMDC could not sell diamonds at a competitive platform as it was currently under sanctions by the USA.

"We have asked Biti to bring those clients who pay as much as US$1 500 per carat and we will sell all our diamonds to those customers. But what he only wants is to make noise to the press and never performs or bring the customers," said the ZMDC boss.

Farai Maguwu, the director of the Centre for Research and Devel-opment, urged the Ministries of Mines and Finance to give clearly spell out the flow of diamond revenue and stop causing unnecessary confusion.

"When the public is getting conflicting signals from the same government, one minister is saying everything is above board and the other is saying I don't know where the money is going, there is bound to be a lot of confusion and suspicion.

"My recommendation is that there is need to have more discussions and clarity between the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Finance," said Maguwu.

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