A civic society organization has raised concerns over the lack of a substantive diamond policy, despite government's stance that the policy is publicly accessible.
By Donald Nyarota
Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi said government was erroneously entering into joint venture agreements guided by an opaque policy which is not publicly accessible.
Mupfumi said this exposes government to manipulation by international oligopolies, while putting social, economic and environmental rights of the people at the mercy of companies.
He said despite undertakings by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that there would be amendments to laws governing extraction of minerals, there has been
"The president has made an undertaking to amend laws and the Diamond policy was also part of the legal framework, but in our engagement with government through Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company all stakeholders conference, it was revealed that there was need for a Diamond policy.
"Surprisingly government has since announced that there is a policy regulating the diamond industry which also ensures that communities benefit from directly from diamonds.
"However, there has been queries on the Diamond policy meeting expectations of the locals and these questions remains unanswered despite the coming in of new investors, Alarosa and recently we heard of Vast Resources.
"We need to interrogate current policy interventions and their implications on the mining sector, in particular communities should be aware of the laws to ensure that they are protected," said Mupfumi.
Senior legal officer in the Ministry of Mines, Nolwazi Muchinguri said the diamond policy was adopted in 2012, to provide for the exploitation of diamonds.
She said through advice from the Attorney Generals' office, government amended the Precious Stones Act to guide trade of diamonds, while the Mines and Minerals Act would cover extraction of the gems.
"Diamond policy has already been there since 2012, we have done consultations it had been set aside for a Diamond Act, in line with other acts, it was providing for the trade of the minerals.
"We are amending the Diamond Policy, it's always been there, Attorney General has advised that there we should not create a new act, but to amend the Precious Stones Act for trade, while the Mines and Minerals Act is for extraction.
"Since this is not a new policy but an amendment there was no consultations on the ground because this was not a new law, the other issue that led to amendments is the issue of compensation," said Muchinguri.
Muchinguri also said under the current Diamond Policy regime government has only approved four companies to exploit diamonds, with other prospective miners obliged to enter into joint venture agreements with the approved four.
"The Diamond policy which we have has 4 companies approved by government ZCDC, Alarosa, Anjin and Murowa- for all prospective miners they can go into a joint venture with these companies- these have capacity to adhere to KP standards.
"There won't be a license given directly to Vast Resources but will be given to a joint venture company of one for the four companies listed in the policy, we understand the interest is on the community stake for the community," said Muchinguri.