4 March 2016

Zimbabwe: Miners Robbed Us, Says President

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe diamond mining industry.

President Mugabe said Government has not received meaningful returns from the Chiadzwa diamond fields and that private companies mining there have robbed the State. He said the consolidation of mining activities in Chiadzwa had not in any way affected relations between Zimbabwe and China.

This comes in the wake of reports by the private media that the move could affect relations between Harare and Beijing given that one of the affected companies (Anjin) was of the Chinese origin.

In his 92nd birthday interview with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation aired last night, President Mugabe said he told his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping during his State visit here last year that Government was not happy with Anjin's operations.

"I don't think it has affected any of our relations at all. I told President Xi Jinping that we were not getting much from the company and we didn't like it anymore in this country," said President Mugabe.

"So we wanted it to go back. I told him that here in this house."

He said less than $2 billion was remitted from diamond proceeds and those seconded by Government to work with the private companies did not help matters as they also failed to account for the gems.

"We have not received much from the diamond industry at all," he said.

"Not much by way of earnings. I don't think we have exceeded $2 billion or so and yet we think that well over 15 or more billion dollars have been earned in that area.

"So where have our gold or carats have been going - the gems and there has been quite a lot of secrecy in handling them and we have been blinded ourselves.

"That is our people who we expected to be our eyes and ears have not been able to see or hear what was going on and lots of swindling, smuggling have taken place and companies that have been mining virtually I want to say robbed us of our wealth and that is why we have decided that this area should be a monopoly area and only the State should be able to do the mining in that area.

"You cannot trust a private company in that area, none at all and we should have learnt from the experiences of countries like Botswana, Angola, Namibia etc. We might go partner with a leading diamond company one which is already well established fine, we may be able to do that but then on good terms.

"Botswana was telling us the idea, that is President (Ian) Khama that the De Beers they have had to demand a beat more than 70 percent of the earnings that are made by De Beers itself because they reckon that over years De Beers have been having a lion's share of their diamond wealth and this is what we are trying to do now - start afresh.

"After all, the real kimberlite mining has not been done it was all alluvial so far.

"Just doing the sands, the loose earth and the conglomerate of course, cutting stones through and getting whatever carats. That is what this Chinese company Anjin was doing."

President Mugabe said the economy was not performing to expectations due to various difficulties.

Among the challenges, the President said, was Zimbabwe using the US dollar which it does not have control over.

"Anyway the American dollar is not the currency of Europe, but when we pay Europe what we have here is the American dollar so the same story happens," he said.

"So we do not print the American dollar and we do not control its flow, international flow the regulation of that flow is by America and so your progress is inhibited. You have to find ways of circumventing these impediments that faces us in trading with other countries and that have just slowed us tremendously."

Internally, the President said economic growth was also being slowed by corruption.

He said the country had set the Anti Corruption Commission to deal with the vice.

"Then of course we have got some inbuilt forms of resistance," said President Mugabe.

"You have in the same system some people who don't think the way you do and have different ideas and do not therefore take the same stance as yourself so they are slow or they think the policies we are taking are not the correct ones so they are not happy and you have also quite some level of corruption in the system private and public and we are looking at how we can get rid of these kind of corruption."

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