Despite the largely positive feedback on the now-concluded Kimberly Process meeting in Kinshasa last week, experts said Monday that Zimbabwe is unlikely to reap massive benefits from global diamond sales from the Marange field unless Parliament passes proposed legislation setting a legal framework and audit trail for diamond earnings.
Officials and economists said the distribution of diamond proceeds at present leaves much to be desired and the government at a disadvantage as its joint venture partners now exploiting the Marange field are expected to retain the bulk of such revenues.
Members of the Kimberley Process meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo last week voted to allow two of the three companies mining diamonds in Marange to export diamonds to previously embargoed Western markets. Members also named the United States deputy chair of the organization, setting it up to take the chair in 2012.
Parliamentary Mines Committee Member Moses Mare said the Diamond Revenue Bill is stuck in Parliament. He said the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation remits just 10 percent of Marange revenues to the government after collecting proceeds from Harare’s joint venture partners developing the alluvial field in the country's east.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti said in July that in the six months through June only US$103 million flowed into government coffers from Marange diamonds.
Mare said much more transparency is required as most companies operating in Marange are opaque. “In some cases the companies are in the hands of security forces and therefore it is impossible to have any kind of transparency and accountability."
Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Research and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe said Parliament should enact the Diamond Revenue Bill so that it will be more clear just where the potentially vast Marange revenues are going.