China dismisses Marange diamond looting claims
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.