The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) says it has sold 51 million carats of diamonds in the 11 years to 2017 valued at $2.4 billion.
Deputy general manager Masimba Chandavengerwa also told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy that Zimbabwe’s gems were being sold cheaply because buyers felt that the parastatal was a risk as it was under United States sanctions.
The US imposed targeted sanctions, which included asset seizures and travel bans, on 98 Zimbabwean individuals and 68 companies in 2003 over charges of undermining democratic institutions and processes in the country.
ZB Financial Holdings and major fertilizer firms Chemplex and ZFC and some individuals were taken off the in October 2016 but former president Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace remain.
Chandavengerwa also said Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu had ordered that about 1.4 million carats the parastatal was selling on behalf of Canadile, a joint venture between Lovemore Kurotwi’s Core Mining and the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, be turned over to Marange Diamonds, another miner which the government also owned.
“When Canadile suspended operations, we had just concluded a sale for their diamonds. We could not invoice the diamonds to the client who had purchased them because of the impasse (between the joint venture partners, Core Mining and ZMDC). We were instructed by ZMDC that Marange would be the seller of the diamonds,” said Chandavengerwa.
“We had to retender the Canadile diamonds on the market and had to reinvoice them on the instructions of the JV partner, ZMDC who told us that Marange would now be owner of the parcel. “
Asked by MPs how they managed to ignore rules and ride roughshod over the true owner of the diamond parcel, Chandavengerwa said the order came from Mpofu.
He also said that the country’s diamonds have been undervalued by foreign buyers due to United States (US) sanctions.
“Big buyers don’t want to deal with us as MMCZ because of sanctions,” said Chandavengerwa, which he said was probably behind the recent move by government to sell local gems in Botswana. –The Source