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Zimbabwe Mines Minister Challenges Allegation US$30M Diamond Revenues Missing

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said a forensic audit of diamonds mined in the controversial Marange field is under way, predicting that it will disprove charges by Finance Minister Tendai Biti as to the diversion of revenues

Zimbabwean Mines Minister Obert Mpofu on Thursday dismissed Finance Minister Tendai Biti's recent statement that US$30 million in proceeds from the sale of exported diamonds from the troubled Marange field is missing.

Mpofu said a forensic audit of diamonds mined in Marange is under way and predicted that it will prove Biti wrong. He said all sales of Zimbabwean minerals are documented by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

Biti said in the mid-term budget statement he delivered last week to Parliament that his ministry has not seen a single cent from diamonds extracted from the Marange field. His budget statement cites a report by Kimberly Process Monitor Abbey Chikane in alleging that "Zimbabwe has sold at least US$30 million worth of diamonds from Marange, which Treasury and [the Revenue Authority] have no record or knowledge of."

Mpofu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the Finance Ministry is responsible for collecting revenues when minerals are sold, not his ministry, adding that Finance is also responsible for documenting mineral exports.

Finance Minister Biti said there was a broad consensus within the unity government for a new Diamond Act to enable the government to develop and control revenues from fields such as Marange. "It is important that any revenue from Marange is accounted for transparently in terms of the law," Biti stated.