China dis­misses Marange di­a­mond loot­ing claims

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Law­son Mab­hena Harare Bureau

NO ev­i­dence has been pro­vided to sup­port claims that Chi­nese com­pa­nies min­ing di­a­monds in the Marange fields of Man­i­ca­land prov­ince were smug­gling the gems, a se­nior em­bassy of­fi­cial has said.

In fact, Charge d’af­fairs Mr Zhao Bao­gang said, the Zim­babwe Gov­ern­ment was re­al­is­ing more from di­a­mond sales dur­ing the ten­ure of eight com­pa­nies that lost their min­ing con­tracts than from Zim­babwe Con­sol­i­dated Di­a­mond Com­pany (ZCDC).

ZCDC last year took over the min­ing op­er­a­tions of An­jin, Mbada Di­a­monds, Marange Re­sources, Di­a­mond Min­ing Com­pany (DMC), Rera Di­a­mond, Ji­nan, Gye Nyame and Kusena Di­a­monds, in a bid to plug leak­ages in the sec­tor.

How­ever, the de­ci­sion to con­sol­i­date op­er­a­tions was not taken lightly by for­eign in­vestors who were part­ner­ing Gov­ern­ment in var­i­ous com­pa­nies.

Ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists at the Chi­nese Em­bassy yes­ter­day, Mr Zhao said ev­i­dence is needed to bring fi­nal­ity to the mat­ter.

Mr Zhao, who was ad­dress­ing jour­nal­ists dur­ing a me­dia work­shop on pro­mot­ing China-Zim­babwe co-op­er­a­tion, said there is a need for in­vestor-friendly poli­cies.

“We need the chain of ev­i­dence. With no ev­i­dence you can shout and talk but what is the ra­tio­nale be­hind that (the con­sol­i­da­tion)? In­vest­ments worth mil­lions were made but all of a sud­den were lost. We have to make the com­par­i­son: which is bet­ter (ZCDC or the com­pa­nies)? The pro­duc­tion was mak­ing profit but now it is down,” he said.

“We hope we can have good co-op­er­a­tion then we can have good poli­cies; not poli­cies that can scare away in­vestors.”

ZCDC made $3,5 mil­lion profit in March from the sale of 218 278 carats; $2,2 mil­lion from 222 528 carats in April and $900 000 from the sale of 72 563 carats in May from two pro­duc­tion por­tals. Of this, about $1 mil­lion went to Trea­sury with the rest be­ing re-em­ployed to cap­i­talise the com­pany. This was against the pro­jec­tions made in March that ZCDC would be sell­ing 500 000 carats ev­ery month worth an av­er­age $30 mil­lion.

Mean­while, Mr Zhao hailed re­la­tions be­tween Zim­babwe and China say­ing the in­crease in Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing the coun­try and the Asian coun­try’s rise in Afro­barom­e­ter rank­ings as a devel­op­ment model in Zim­babwe, is tes­ti­mony of the good work be­ing done by jour­nal­ists in pro­mot­ing co-op­er­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the sur­vey, most Africans be­lieve that China is the best devel­op­ment model for their coun­tries, af­ter the United States of Amer­ica. In three of five African re­gions, China ei­ther matches or sur­passes the United States in pop­u­lar­ity as a devel­op­ment model.

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