Zimbabwe must meet several conditions, which may take months to put in place, before it can sell diamonds locally, Government and industry stakeholders have said.Experts say the country has to first establish a one-stop-shop for diamond dealing and insist on value addition if it is to stop losing revenue by exporting rough stones.
Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Fred Moyo, said policies would be put in place to ensure the country benefits more fully from its diamonds.
"We need to clean, cut and polish the diamonds before we start selling here," he said. "We must also have a diamond centre where everything will be centralised because at the moment things are happening at various centres.
"Like the Minister (Walter Chidhakwa) has already said, we are creating legislation to make sure that not less than 10 percent gem, not less than 10 percent semi-gem and not less than 10 percent industrial diamonds are sold to beneficiation players in the country. We are indeed driving toward ensuring that we sell here."
Marange Resources acting chief executive officer Mr Mark Mabhudhu said there was need to conduct diamond sales under one roof.
"We also need a robust IT system able to manage parcels so that they can be tracked and people can use the normal bar-coding system and tight security," he said. "We should also make sure our stones are cleaned, sorted and evaluated properly so that we have a reserve price of the parcel at the market. If you are not happy with the price, you can always decide to try somewhere else."
Diamond Mining Company board chairperson Brigadier-General (Retired) Ezekiel Zabanyana said Zimbabwe should expedite local sales and processing. "At the moment, buyers from outside the country are not happy with the bureaucracy here because it takes too long for them to get the product after paying for it," he said.
"We need to first establish something like a one-stop-shop for diamonds so that we smoothen the process."
DMC general manager Mr Ramsey Malik, said it was important for Zimbabwe to open its market to every interested buyer as is done at the Dubai Diamond Exchange Centre and with the Antwerp system. He said screening and registration of buyers took about two weeks, resulting in people preferring other auctions where it takes about 24 hours to process everything.
"In Dubai and Antwerp it took 24 hours yet in Harare it would take weeks to process papers. We need to establish a one-stop office where all papers are processed and the product handed over to clients within 48 hours after receipt of funds," said Mr Malik.
"Let all the companies agree to hold a sale at the same time; invite the maximum number of customers and process papers on time."
Zimbabwe Diamonds Technology Centre chairperson Mr Lovemore Kurotwi said beneficiation was a prerequisite for local sales.
"The set-up at the moment is punitive because it doesn't encourage beneficiation to take place because those with licences are just gambling," he said. "The law must say at least 95 percent of the diamonds must be value-added so that we can benefit as a country.
"If Government is serious about value addition then we must do like what other countries are doing in the region where they value add their gems and sell them locally.
"But for us to sell the diamonds locally, we need to have a diamond centre where everything is centralised than have a situation where buyers have to go through different offices."