New diamond policy brings in transparency

The new diamond mining policy approved by Cabinet on Tuesday this week, comes handy in giving the country the much needed depth of character in accounting cent by cent for the proceeds from mining the precious mineral.

This certainly might be the prescription the country has been waiting for to deal with a cocktail of ills that afflicted the diamond industry in the past. 

It is trite, but a true observation that this time around the Government indeed applied a thought process and put everything in place to plug the holes that have been leaky and cost the country millions of dollars.

This is a major departure from the past, where administrative and policy loopholes resulted in the country losing out to systematic pilferage.

By crafting the new diamond policy, the Government has proved its commitment to sustainable extraction of the mineral and subsequent accountability for the proceeds for the benefit of all and sundry.

That the policy covers all aspects of the mineral from exploration, mining, processing, valuation, beneficiation, value addition, security and law enforcement, means the Government has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the diamond industry is holistically dealt with to the final product.

Another paradigm shift in the new diamond policy is the shareholding stake that has seen Government, through the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Mining Company, hold 46 percent with a compulsory 5 percent for the local community under the Community Share Ownership Trust.

That the percentage for the local community is not implied, but clearly stated and fixed solves a big problem that has in the past seen communities duped and left counting their losses by mining companies.

It is also critical that the Government has left a room for flexibility by giving the Minister of Mines and Mining Development the leeway to waive the stakeholding threshold, provided there are satisfactory submissions and due diligence done.

By its nature, the shareholding structure opens up to a flexible regime that should attract more investors in the industry.

Also, the downsizing of the number of local companies that can do diamond mining to four makes it easy for the Government to monitor operations along the entire value chain. Any foreigner wishing to mine is thus required to look for joint ventures with any of the four.

The biggest safety net will be the Diamond Value Management Centre, managed by ZCDC, where all rough diamonds mined in Zimbabwe shall be submitted for cleaning, sorting and valuation.

There is no doubt that this makes it easy for the country to know how much rough diamonds have been mined. Only Murowa Diamonds is exempted.

Of greater importance is that many private players will be allowed to venture into the cleaning, sorting and valuation and that creates jobs.

There is no doubt that when strictly implemented the new diamond policy is the prescription Zimbabwe has always wanted.

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