Government has introduced a quota system which stipulates that 10 percent of locally-produced diamonds are cut and polished in the country, President Mugabe has said. He said this while officially opening the inaugural Zimbabwe Diamond Conference that is being held under the theme,
“Unlocking Zimbabwe’s Diamond Potential Together” here yesterday.
“In an endeavour to promote local diamond beneficiation, Government introduced a quota system which stipulates that 10 percent of all locally-produced diamonds are to be cut and polished locally.
“However, only 0.1 percent of diamonds produced in the country in 2011 were cut and polished locally. Measures to address this anomaly are being put in place in addition to exploring avenues to encourage investment in this area.
“Government therefore remains committed to promoting local beneficiation and value addition of Zimbabwean diamonds and the sustainable growth of the diamond downstream industry.”
President Mugabe — who is the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces — said Government was determined to further growth of the diamond sector as evidenced by the adoption of measures to promote accelerated diamond exploration.
“To this end, an exploration company has been established and will soon be operational,” he said.
The President said in view of the competitive nature and strictness of diamond trading, it was imperative that Government observed international standards attached to the mining and storage of the gems.
He said Government accelerated the formulation of policy and legislation such as the Diamond Policy and the Diamond Bill, which was still in progress to further assure the global diamond industry that it took seriously good governance in the extraction and trading of the gems.
To boost the international reputation of local diamonds, the President said Government assured that all relevant entities such as the police and the revenue authority, among others, participated in the diamond value addition chain.
“To this end, Government remains steadfast in the promotion and maintenance of transparency and accountability, not only in the diamond sub-sector, but also in all other sectors. Community participation in mining through community share ownership trusts is one such phenomenon meant to cascade the mineral benefits to community and village level.
“Given the Government’s commitment to upholding of international industry standards and requirements, it goes without saying that diamonds from Zimbabwe must, in the same spirit, be allowed market space in order to trade competitively and fully benefit the nation,” he said.
Due to illegal sanctions on diamond mining firms, said President Mugabe, the country had not been able to realise full benefits, particularly from diamonds mined in Marange.
“The diamonds have been marketed at depressed prices owing to a negative buyers’ perception resulting from these illegal sanctions.
“In this regard, may I urge the diamond industry players to call for fair play in the marketing of our diamonds from Marange,” he said.
The President said the diamond conference came at a time when the country was being ranked among major diamond producers.
An expert report indicates that Zimbabwe’s diamond production could double the current global output and easily contribute by 2015, 25 percent of the world’s supply by value and 30 percent by volume.
“Such predictions are evidently premised on the great potential inherent in the geographical coverage of the diamond resources of the country.”
“The diamond conference, therefore, provides a unique platform for the world to witness the great strides taken by this new and fast growing local diamonds industry in ensuring its competitiveness globally. It will also allow for strengthening of the already existing partnerships whilst providing for the forgiving of new strategic alliances within the diamond industry,” he said.
The conference, which ends today, attracted over 300 delegates from over 20 diamond-producing countries.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe had a 30-minute meeting with former South African President Cde Thabo Mbeki before opening the conference.