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Government mortgages Chiadzwa diamonds?

MUTARE– Government critics, and natural resources experts say the new dispensation has gone the full circle of facilitating natural resources plunder by foreigners, rubbishing the return of Chinese firm to mine diamonds as retrogressive.

This follows the official return of Anjin Diamond Company to Chiadzwa after it injected US$38 million, in an opaque arrangement touted to change Zimbabwe’s fortunes despite the miner listed as one of diamond companies which externalized forex during its first stint.

Before it stopped operations in 2015 Anjin was also sued by the local community, through the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), for releasing effluent and polluting Odzi and Save Rivers.

Anjin also failed to produce audited annual financial statements since 2010 when the entity started mining diamonds in Marange and also failed to compensate families that were relocated to pave way for its operations.

Several natural resources experts, politicians and civic society players took to micro blogging site Twitter to question the prudence of granting Anjin a new concession when there is currently no binding policies and the Mines and Minerals Act is yet to be amended.

Centre for Research and Development (CRD) said Anjin did not undertake due diligence processes including an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), “Mnangagwa blessed Anjin mining without binding policy reforms in diamond mining.  Prior to opening Anjin did not undertake due diligence processes that will protect human rights.”

Outspoken opposition politician Tendai Biti said Zimbabwe has mortgaged its resources after allowing the Chinese miner, which was part of a coterie of companies disbanded in 2015 and consolidated for failing to remit to the national fiscus.

Biti called this rape and pillage of Zimbabwe’s natural resources which he said should be quantified in the future through a review and audit of all mining contracts.

“A future democratic government in Zim must review & audit all mining contracts and concessions dished out by this regime. Further there must be an international audit of Zimbabwe’s diamond Earnings since 2010. The rape and pillage of Zimbabwe commodities must stop

“Zimbabwe’s alluvial Diamonds could have lasted 25 years but in under 5 years Anjin & others had stripped same and Zimbabwe has nothing to show for its diamonds. Looting of commodities (gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome and gas) under (President Mnangagwa) Emmerson is criminal and should be stopped.

“Despite the fact that Anjin was the country’s largest diamond producer, averaging a million carats a month it hardly contributed anything to the fiscus. Of the $15 billion worth of diamond revenue lost between 2010 and 2015 Anjin was the biggest looter much worse than Mbada Diamonds and DMC,” said Biti.

Refias Sithole a resident of Chiadzwa said, “Returning Chinese Anjin Company after they failed to remit to the Zimbabwean national treasury and to look after communities in Chiadzwa is really worrisome. What has changed?” he queried.

Others said government should have done its due diligence to check their Environmental Management Plans and Systems, their Corporate Social Responsibility and Tax remittances to treasury before Anjin began with mining and ensure that it compensate resettled families.

With this deal placing transparency and accountability off the table the international coalition the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) chair Helen Clark said Zimbabwe would greatly benefit from signing transparent deal and joining the initiative dominated by its African peers.

“(The) Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative which I chair is global initiative supporting transparency and best practice governance in extractive sectors. Around half of countries implementing EITI standard are in Africa. Zimbabwe would benefit from implementing it,” she said.

Shamiso Mutisi who leads a civil society coalition of the Kimberly Processes Certification Scheme (KPCS) said government should consider adopting diamond trading principles to safeguard revenue from diamonds and to ensure accountability.

Mutisi, is also deputy director of ZELA, said there are ‘a few insights from the Kimberley Process on trade of diamonds for Anjin and government to consider’.

“Diamond companies required to facilitate audit of companies for traceability of rough diamonds. All cash purchases of rough diamonds be routed through official banking channels supported by verifiable documentation.

“Effective security standards is a requirement. Records of diamond buyers, sellers and exporters including amounts and values sold, purchased or exported required,” said Mutisi.

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