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Zimbabwe FM Biti Counting on 2010 Revenues From Controversial Diamond Field

In his budget projections, Finance Minister Tendai Biti is looking for regular royalties from the government's private-sector partners in developing the Marange diamond field of Manicaland province

Zimbabwe's controversial Marange alluvial diamond field cropped up in Finance Minister Tendai Biti's budget presentation on Wednesday as he indicated that he hopes to hit his revenue targets with the help of royalties from the two South African companies that have been granted concessions in the area.

The Marange field in eastern Manicaland province has drawn the attention of international organizations including Human Rights Watch, which alleged that the Zimbabwean military which still controls much of the area killed more than 200 people to prevent unauthorized mining, and the Kimberly Process, which has tightened its surveillance of diamond exports from the area.

Biti told Parliament in his budget address that he will set up a commission drawn from the Finance, Home Affairs and Mines ministries to oversee exploitation of the field and the export of diamonds to prevent their theft or diversion.

He urged the Zimbabwe Mining Development Commission to wind up its mining operations in Marange, leaving the South African companies in control.

Deputy Mines Minister Murisi Zwizwai told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that Biti’s plan will safeguard national economic interests.