The Zimbabwe government remains divided on the issue of diamond revenues from the controversial Marange diamond fields with Finance Minister Tendai Biti insisting that not all diamond proceeds are going into the Treasury.
Presenting his mid-term budget review statement this week Biti said transparency still lacked in the way diamond revenues are being handled.
The minister said there was no connection between Zimbabwe's diamond income, its output and international diamond prices. In the first half of 2011, Biti said, Zimbabwe exported about 717,000 carats from its alluvial diamond mines in Marange, including the Mbada mine. However, only $103.9 million of diamond exports were accounted for.
“There are times when resources instead of being a blessing become a curse. The reality of Zimbabwe’s situation is that there is no connection between Zimbabwe’s income from diamonds and its output in international prices,” he said.
Biti said Treasury saw no payments on any diamonds from 2011 but a February payment was made on 2010 diamond production. As a result Biti is urging completion of the Diamond Revenue Bill to properly audit all of the country's diamond revenue, its sharing and distribution.
Biti asked the international community to recognize the compliance that Zimbabwean companies were demonstrating with the Kimberly Certification Process, requesting the right for Zimbabwe to sell its diamonds within the framework of the KP.
But responding to questions in Parliament yesterday Deputy Mines Minister Gift Chimanikire, Biti’s colleague from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC formation, contradicted the finance minister saying all diamond revenues have been accounted for.
Chimanikire revealed the government has so far received $201 million from companies mining Marange diamonds.
He said figures from his ministry tallied with the ones with the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the finance ministry after a reconciliation exercise by all stakeholders.
"A reconciliation pertaining to the dividends that were remitted by the Ministry's parastatals from Chiadzwa diamond sales for the period January 2010 to February 2011 was carried out in March 2011 and concluded successfully.
"The dividend income that was remitted through the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development Exchequer account was reconciled and tallied with Treasury figures," he said.
Total dividends remitted from 2010 to February this year in royalties and taxes amounted to US$90 million, he said.
"A further dividend of US$27 million was remitted by ZMDC in July 2011, bringing the total amount remitted to Treasury to date to US$201,2 million," said Chimanikire.
Mines Minister Obert Mpofu dismissed Biti’s statements saying he’s merely politicking. He insists all revenues from Marange have been accounted for.
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa said diamonds are in abundance in Marange and will be used to fund the government’s programs.