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Zimbabwe central bank governor decries diamond industry secrecy

By Nqobile Bhebhe
Posted on Tuesday, 9 February 2016 13:34

John Mangudya said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was finding it hard to monitor the diamond industry unlike other sectors such as tobacco farming whose operations were transparent.

We don’t know how much was produced. We don’t know how much was exported

“If you look at tobacco for example, Zimbabweans grow tobacco, from rural, A1 up to A2 (category) farmers. It is marketed at the auction floors, we all know about it,” Mangudya told symposium on Zimbabwe economic outlook for 2016.

“But we don’t know the same information from diamonds. We don’t know how much was produced. We don’t know how much was exported. It seems we are exporting both the products and proceeds.

“We need to improve on transparency and accountability… so that we have a positive outlook,” he said.

Mangudya last week said $2 billion had been externalised by Zimbabweans last year.

Out of the $1, 8 billion externalised, he said $1,2 billion was siphoned out by corporates with outward individual remittances accounting for the balance.

The governor’s latest comments would put the spotlight back on the diamond industry.

Last October, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa told parliament that a mere $260 million in dividends over nine years from diamond companies was deposited into government coffers.

Four years ago President Robert Mugabe’s government announced that the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe would soon supply 25 percent of world rough diamond output.

Diamonds were first discovered in Marange, 400 kilometres east of Harare, in 2006, prompting an influx of illegal miners.

A military clampdown and government takeover of the fields in late 2008 DID as not stop the rampant smuggling of diamonds, and authorities admit the leakages could be significant.

Despite the discovery of diamond deposits, Zimbabwe is still saddled with a huge foreign debt in the region of $10.7 billion and has not gotten any meaningful benefit from their extraction.

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