Diamond Cutting Centre To Anchor Mutare’s Special Economic Zone

MUTARE- A diamond cutting and polishing centre will headline the US$175 million special economic zone set to be established in Mutare, officials have said.

By Donald Nyarota

Zimbabwe’s first public SEZ outside Harare and Bulawayo will be developed 12 km south east of Mutare city on a 90 hectare plot, to promote value addition of diamonds, attract foreign direct investment, and ensure development of a regional hub for polishing and cutting of diamonds.

Some of the major developments include a five star hotel, helipads, shopping malls, 300 residential stands, upmarket apartments, office and industrial parks that will centre on diamond beneficiation.

The gemology centre in the Fernhill Diamond Park Valley will be housed under the Zimbabwe School of Mines to enhance value addition activities Finance and Admin director Tawanda Nyathi said.

“Diamond and gemstone polishing is critical to value addition and we are looking forward to this initiative as it enables us to enhance our efforts. The centre will establish laboratories and diamond cutting and polishing units as part of our strategic plans.

“We have partnered city of Mutare in this project where we will also collaborate with other stakeholders, suppliers and miners to form a diamond park in the Fernhill special economic zone,” said Nyathi.

Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZIMSEZA) technical head Wilfred Motsi said this was a tool by government to attract foreign direct investment and leverage on natural resources.

Motsi said the development will also seek to attract ancillary investment around the gems, promote local development and provide employment for local communities.

“This is a tool by government to primarily attract foreign direct investment while other secondary issues include establishment of value chains particularly for local industries.

“So government has come up with special economic zones as a carrot for foreign direct investment but if operationalized this will also result in employment creation, local industries will also benefit through procurement by supplying goods and services,” said Motsi.

Motsi said through various support from government and financial institutions, the setting up of special economic zones would spur local development for the city of Mutare.

“Mutare city’s role is to make sure that the area is developed in conjunction with other stakeholders while we come in to regulate, assist in marketing, promotion and monitoring compliance on various issues,” Motsi added.

Mutare City Town Clerk, Joshua Maligwa said this was an opportunity to be embraced as it was in tandem with the city’s urban renewal project, which will seeks to transform the city into a world class metropolis.

“Mutare city is one of those six sites chosen by government as special economic zones and for interest sake this will be the pilot project by government.

“It is important that stakeholders embrace this project because very soon we will invite you to launch the Sakubva urban renewal project, we are building a new city that is of world class standards

“Then if we combine the special economic zones and Sakubva urban renewal, Mutare city will be taken as the jewel of the east,” said Maligwa.

Mutare Residents and Ratepayers Association director David Mutambirwa said while residents appreciate efforts to develop the city, such steps should be all inclusive and not elitist in nature.

“As residents we have concerns that this project although it sounds goods, that it could be hijacked and be an elitist project which does not benefit locals particularly the less privileged members of society in our high density suburbs,” he said.

Some of the incentives for investment in SEZs include zero rated corporate income tax for the first 5 years of operations, with a subsequent 15% corporate tax rate, free import duty on capital equipment, and no customs duty on raw materials not locally available.

ZIMSEZA focal person for Mutare, Phoebe Mudereki said these incentives would attract investors while the supply of utilities will be guaranteed at lower rates.

She said other incentives include a 50% special initial allowance cost for a year and 25% in subsequent two years, as well zero rated capital gains, while non-fiscal incentives would also be offered to potential investors.

Investors in the special economic zones will be able to apply for permanent residence after 5 years, as part of a wide ranging non fiscal incentives said Mudereki.