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Reported Indian Offer for Zimbabwe Diamonds Raises Numerous Questions

Deputy Minister of Mines Chimanikire said Monday that the deal did not reflect government policy, raising questions about the substance of the proposal agreed by Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing and the Affirmative Action Group

Numerous questions remain to be answered about a reported agreement between an Indian diamond consortium and the so-called Zimbabwe Diamond Consortium for the guaranteed purchase of $100 million a month in rough diamonds from the controversial Marange field in eastern Manicaland province.

Reports said the Indian group, Surat Rough Diamond Sourcing India Limited, has entered an agreement with the Zimbabwe Diamond Consortium, signed by Affirmative Action Group President Supa Mandiwanzira, in the deal.

Surat official Chandrakant Sanghavi told the Hindustan Times that the deal is good business for Indian companies which have had trouble maintaining a steady flow of rough diamonds. Chinese competition is growing stiffer.

The Indians are said to have promised to train 1,000 Zimbabwean youths in cutting and polishing diamonds to develop Zimbabwe’s industry. Zimbabwean Deputy Minister of Mines Gift Chimanikire and Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere were present when the letter of understanding was signed on Friday in Harare, sources said.

Mandiwanzira told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira in an interview that Zimbabwe’s diamond sector is set to expand vigorously on this promised injection of Indian capital. But economist Prosper Chitambara said that while the deal looks significant, the Harare government may not benefit much from it even though it is a joint venture partner with the two main companies exploiting the Marange resource, Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining.

Chimanikire said on the Studio 7 Livetalk program Monday that the deal did not reflect government policy. He said diamond auctions would still be held in the same manner as they have been to date with the highest bidder getting to buy the rough stones from Marange, leaving questions as to the substance of the Indo-Zimbabwean proposal.