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Planned diamond centre cheers Mutare

Patrick-ChinamasaMUTARE ― Industry and natural resources experts have hailed government for its plan to establish a diamond cutting and polishing centre in the eastern border city. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in his 2018 National Budget Statement that government would expedite the establishment of Special Economic Zones and the Mutare Diamond Cutting Centre.

Government has previously promoted similar facilities in Harare, ignoring the province from which the majority of the gems are mined. Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries national vice president Richard Chiwandire said the announcement by Chinamasa was positive. “It’s going to be very good to the Manicaland economy. We have always been calling for that. We didn’t understand why the diamonds should benefit people in Harare (first), so having such a centre in Mutare will boost the economy of the province.

We welcome this development. It was long overdue,” said Chiwandire. There are 29 diamond cutting and polishing centres in Harare, but none in Mutare, despite its proximity to the vast Marange diamond fields. The diamond companies had failed to provide the 29 cutting and polishing centres in Harare with gems, forcing the local miners to acquire diamonds from Botswana.

This led to their collapse. Centre for Natural Resources Governance director Farai Maguwu welcomed the development but implored government to ensure that mining companies supplied the gems to the centre. Government in 2014 said 10 percent of all diamonds mined in Zimbabwe should be processed locally. “I think its progressive, but it must be taken holistically that merely establishing the centre without ensuring that the cutting and polishing centre receives the diamonds in a nullity.

The challenge with those 29 diamond polishing centres in Harare was that they ended up buying diamonds from Botswana. That’s why they ended up closing. So government needs to make sure that they prioritise the supply of gems to the centre and this will provide employment and boost the economy in the province,” said Maguwu. The Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company produced 961 000 carats in 2016 and targets to produce 2,5 million carats this year. Ten percent of the total output is supposed to feed local cutting and polishing centres as per government policy. Center for Research and Development director James Mupfumi also welcomed the development, but urged government to come up with a Diamond Act.