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Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai’s speech at Oxford University
for Democratic Change (MDC-T)
View this article
on the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) website
Zimbabwean experience of diamonds and how they have shaped our politics.”
It is always inspiring
and a great honour to be invited to an august forum of such a prestigious
and famous institution of higher learning and research.
I sincerely acknowledge the invitation to Oxford University and
the Centre for African Studies, one of the highest centres of learning
in the world. For centuries, some of the world’s greatest
minds have walked the cobbled streets of Oxford and graced its platforms
and I am humbled to have been chosen to be in your company today.
This is my first international
engagement after the disputed elections in Zimbabwe and to do so
at this world-renowned centre of learning is both an honour and
a privilege. That you have invited me here represents a re-affirmation
of the importance of our cause and the seriousness with which it
is regarded by the academic world, especially the Centre for African
Studies which has over the years provided a forum for discussion
and debate on the critical issues affecting our continent, a continent
toward which some of us have invested so much time, effort and love
to ensure that it provides a safe and happy environment for its
Politics has always stood
to benefit from intellectual capital. Developmental and democratic
processes in Zimbabwe and Africa generally can benefit more from
greater input by intellectuals.
Research is critical,
it informs politicians and politics and as the MDC, we place high
value in the contributions made by intellectuals even as we appreciate
that politics is an arena for participation by everyone.
draw on the expertise of intellectuals and do not hesitate to invite
them to work with us and we have been privileged to have some joining
our ranks over the years. We take your work seriously and encourage
you to do more research on Zimbabwe including on issues that form
the core of today’s discussion. Left to ourselves and our
egos, we politicians can easily become our own worst enemies and
so we need intellectuals to play their critical role, pointing to
our errors and checking our excesses. It is for this reason that
we in the MDC fought hard to ensure the inclusion of the right to
academic freedom in Zimbabwe’s new Constitution.
I have been asked to
talk about the extractive industry, in particular, the diamond industry
in Zimbabwe and its impact on the politics obtaining in the country.
This topic is most appropriate and poignant, given the background
of the most recent elections in Zimbabwe, whose process and outcome
have been marked by serious controversy leaving serious credibility
and legitimacy questions.
While it is tempting,
the purpose of the paper is not to discuss the process and outcome
of those elections, which is a matter for another forum. The paper
will however, make reference to the elections to the extent that
it is necessary and unavoidable in discussing the interplay between
the diamond industry and politics in Zimbabwe which forms the core
of this paper.
While Zimbabwe could
have learned from previous experience in other African countries,
such as Sierra Leone and the DRC, the discovery of diamonds has
indeed followed the all-too-familiar script and turned out to be
a curse rather than a blessing for the country.
There were serious
human rights abuses that took place following the discovery of the
precious stones – as reported and authenticated by civil society
organisations and the initial disbarment of Zimbabwean
diamonds from the Kimberly Process until not so long ago, when
they received certification.
The military occupation of the diamond fields, the beatings and
killings of those who came for the “Diamond Rush”, the
forced displacement of the local people in Marange in Manicaland
province and the problems they continue to face following their
displacement remains a cause for concern.
The poverty endemic in
this area is not consistent with the value of the diamonds extracted
from their land. It is displeasing how a people can continue to
wallow in poverty in the midst of a treasure benefiting the well-heeled
and the well-connected in government.
The mining industry has
replaced the once-thriving agricultural sector as the biggest export
and foreign currency earner for the country. The sector has seen
a lot of companies entering the fray, particularly in diamond mining.
The companies include:
River Ranch, Murowa Diamonds, Mbada Diamonds, Anjin, Marange Resources
and Diamond Mining Company (DMC). Government, through the state-owned
company, ZMDC entered into joint venture agreements with a 50/50
shareholding in the following companies: Mbada, Anjin and DMC. Marange
Resources is owned 100% by ZMDC.
mining sector was generally small until the huge discovery of alluvial
deposits in Marange in 2006. It is estimated that the country now
has the capacity to supply 25% of the global diamond market.
As a party,
the MDC’s aims to promote a “social democratic developmental
state”, and sees the mining industry as a critical sector
through which to promote both development and strengthen democratisation
in the country.
Unfortunately, the experience
so far under Zanu-PF in control of natural resources and the mining
sector is that the diamond industry has neither helped in promoting
development or democratisation in the country.
Instead, it has increased
the gap between the minority that are extremely rich and the majority
who remain poor while at the same time fuelling the undermining
of democratic processes. I will endeavour to demonstrate this in
more detail below by showing the major challenges affecting the
diamond mining industry and how they have impacted on the politics
in the country.
Major challenges affecting
diamond mining industry
The secrecy and lack
of transparency in the diamond mining industry has resulted in serious
leakages and failure to remit satisfactory revenues to the State.
While the Minister of Finance expected $600 million from the proceeds
of diamond exports in 2012, the State only received about $41 million.
This is against reported sales of diamonds running into billions
of dollars every year. According to international NGO Global Witness,
about $2bn in diamond revenues have been unaccounted for since 2008.
In 2012, our
Minister of Finance was forced to revise his $4 billion National
Budget to $3,4 billion after the $600 million expected from
diamond sales did not materialise. Our own Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Mines and Energy presented a report in Parliament in
June 2013 which states the following:
observed with concern that from the time that the country was allowed
to trade its diamonds on the world market, government has not realized
any meaningful contributions from the sector. This is despite the
fact that production levels and the revenue generated from exports
has been on the increase. There are serious discrepancies between
what government receives from the sector and what the diamond mining
companies claim to have remitted to Treasury”.
The parliamentary committee's
report said powerful officials, politicians and police and army
commanders repeatedly tried to thwart the probe into diamond dealings.
The chair of the 22-member panel, Edward Chindori-Chininga, a former
Mugabe Mines minister, died in a car crash just days after he signed
off the report in June.
Chindori-Chininga's death was accidental and that his car had veered
off the highway and slammed into trees. However, observers found
the circumstances of his demise suspicious. Certainly, car wrecks
or mysterious accidents are not uncommon in our part of the world
and as a local press report indicated recently, they have taken
the lives of 12 senior politicians, all of whom were believed to
have bucked official policy, in the past two decades.
committee's report said several officials lied while giving evidence
under subpoena and that diamond earnings are not only shielded from
scrutiny but are not channelled into the state coffers.
The one notable discrepancy
is that while Treasury received $41 million only in 2012, one of
the diamond mining companies which responded to the Parliamentary
Committee (Mbada) stated that it had remitted $117 million to Government
as dividends for its shareholding. The difference between $117 million
supposedly received from Mbada and the $41 million actually received
by Treasury remains unaccounted for. This is even before one considers
remittances in dividends from other diamond mining companies in
which the state is a shareholder, let alone the royalty fees and
other payments due to the state.
The lack of transparency
means that nobody appears to know exactly how much the country has
earned from diamonds and whether the reported figures are accurate.
It is clear that there is serious under-reporting of the proceeds
from diamond mining and trade. The effect of the low remittances
to government simply means the State has been thin on resources
and it has not been able to finance the developmental projects that
had been budgeted for. With the State receiving little revenues
than expected, its developmental role has been seriously hamstrung.
It is hoped that the
lifting of restrictive measures on ZMDC and the use of the Kimberly
Process will promote greater transparency. The measures had the
effect of giving rent-seekers an opportunity to conduct their dealings
in the parallel market, thereby promoting shady deals, leakages,
non-accountability and corrupt activities. They no longer have that
excuse and it is expected that there will be added transparency
and therefore accountability on the mining and trade of diamonds.
If the State receives what is due to it from the diamond companies,
the hope is that the Government will channel those resources to
developmental projects. We had comprehensive plans, as an MDC Government
to make diamonds work for the people of Zimbabwe, using the proceeds
to support infrastructural projects and promoting social services
for local communities.
Diamond mining in our
country is riddled with corruption as confirmed by the Parliamentary
Committee report and President Mugabe’s recent speech at the
official opening of Parliament when he cited the former ZMDC chairperson
as having accepted bribes from prospective investors. Many of us
believe the naming and shaming of a few individuals is only a tip
of the iceberg. The corruption is mainly due to the lack of transparency
and unbridled greed on the part of those entrusted with overseeing
the diamond mining industry. It is to be noted that the former Minister
of Mines who has previously been fingered in corrupt deals is now
an owner of a bank that had fallen on hard times. Many of the people
in and around the diamond mining industry are known for their conspicuous
consumption in the middle of a sea of poverty around the country.
Corruption has also impacted on investment as the costs invariably
are higher because of rent-seekers using corrupt means to secure
benefits for themselves.
There is an unusual involvement
of the military and the police in the diamond mining industry, when
mining is a civilian exercise. The army, police and other security
services have formed trusts through which they own shareholdings
in diamond mining companies. No other arms or agencies of the state
have the same facilities. Indeed, there are no known investments
by the army, police and other security services in businesses beyond
the diamond mining industry. This goes to demonstrate the critical
place occupied by the diamond mining industry in the political dynamics
of the country.
With heavy interest invested
in the industry by the military courtesy of Zanu-PF, this has strengthened
the bond between the party and the military, resulting in the latter
having a greater incentive to ensure the former retains power at
all costs. Not surprisingly, the military played a critical role
in the election process, mainly propping up Zanu-PF and mobilising
support, including their role in electoral institutions and processes.
were deployed in provinces to mobilise support for Zanu-PF in what
were referred to as political re-education campaigns, long before
the election started. Zanu-PF was actively aided by the security
services sector in their political campaign, thereby giving them
an unfair advantage over fellow contestants. While there was less
of the violence that was seen in previous elections, the mere presence
of soldiers and security personnel especially in rural areas during
the election campaigns helped to intimidate voters, reminded them
of the scourge of state-sponsored
violence of 2008 and generally assisted Zanu-PF to benefit from
the “harvest of fear” in the 2013 election. The participation
of the security services in support of Zanu-PF was incentivised
by the benefits accruing from the diamond mining industry.
and/or Refusal to Account to Parliament.
It is expected in a normal
democracy that the Executive is accountable to Parliament and that
when Parliament seeks answers, it should be able to summon the executive
and make the necessary enquiries. The experience of Parliament generally
and the Portfolio Committee showed that when it came to the diamond
industry, the Executive was actively refusing to account.
According to the Portfolio
Committee Report, “During the four year period of the enquiry,
the Committee observed with concern that the Executive and its officers
were generally not willing to be held accountable by Parliament.
This was evidenced through the Committee’s experiences as
it conducted this enquiry. This goes against the basic universal
principles of Ministerial Accountability to the Legislature as enshrined
in national or international law”. This goes to demonstrate
how the curse of diamonds has actually worked to undermine the normal
democratic process and therefore contaminate the democratic culture
in the country.
and the Diamond Industry
There is a heavy involvement
of the Chinese in our diamond industry. They are probably the only
foreign investor with significant control of the diamond industry
but their investment and activities are also shrouded in secrecy
and controversy. From the prevalence of unfair labour practices
in Chinese-run companies to corruption and serious leakages, there
have been many complaints regarding Chinese role in the diamond
mining industry. Zanu-PF has always regarded the Chinese as their
all-weather friends. It is probably by no coincidence that in return,
China has been one of the biggest backers of Zanu-PF at the international
level (UN). We note that the Communist Party of China played an
important to support Zanu-PF in the recent election.
Zanu-PF has used diamonds
to strengthen its relationship with China, particularly in order
to safeguard its own interests at the international stage, e.g.
the UN Security Council. China’s approach in Africa is generally
to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses or acts that undermine
democracy as long as its own interests are being served. While some
might acknowledge their refusal to get involved in the internal
affairs of countries in which they operate, dictatorial regimes
tend to take comfort in the cushion they receive.
In Zimbabwe, for example,
Zanu-PF regards China as a useful counter-weight to the West, which
has generally been calling for human rights protection and promotion
of democratic processes in the country. The diamond mining industry
has been useful in oiling the relationship between Zanu-PF and China
with the latter providing political support needed by Zanu-PF.
dependency on raw exports as opposed to value addition
Along with many other
countries in Africa, diamonds and other minerals are generally produced
and exported in their raw and cheaper forms. This does not aid Africa’s
development as it ends up importing value added products at much
higher prices. There are reports of tonnes of soil and rubble being
shipped to China and other countries representing serious leakages
in the system that could help in the country’s development
efforts if they were plugged.
The overall impact of
the diamond industry so far has been to derail the democratisation
process through the overt involvement of the military, corruption
and the emergence of a parallel economy that has fuelled illegal
and underhand dealings impacting on the electoral processes.
Through this parallel
economy, Zanu-PF has large amounts of cash giving it the ability
to manipulate the electoral process and subvert the will of the
people through payment of shady consultancies to perform election-related
work, the refusal to support the Treasury in its developmental work
simply because it was MDC-controlled and the deliberate porosity
and leakages in this sector.
All these factors have created a compromised State in which the
ruling party was closely wedded to the military and other agencies
benefitting from the diamond industry. I have reliable information
that all these factors have converged to ensure a Zanu-PF victory
at all costs. Everything was done to make sure Zanu-PF remained
in power in order to protect the new found spaces to accumulate
wealth. The lack of vision and proper plans in this industry have
meant that apart from derailing the democratic processes, diamond
mining is still is not geared towards development in the country.
needs to be done?
has to benefit the communities in which mining is taking place and
the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. Article 13 of our new Constitution
provides that the State must ensure that local communities benefit
from the resources in their areas. From a gender perspective, the
new Constitution also provides that the State must ensure that women
have access to resources on the basis of equality with men. I am
certain that an analysis of the diamond mining industry and trade
in Zimbabwe will demonstrate that it is skewed heavily against women.
The militarisation, violence and power dynamics associated with
the diamond industry are generally against any measures that are
likely to promote women’s participation and their interests.
Overall, all activities
in the diamond mining industry must be consistent with the spirit
of constitutionalism. This implies safeguarding and promoting the
fundamental rights and freedoms of the people as well as generally
upholding the Rule of Law. Above all, there must be respect for
To this extent, one tends
to agree with the recommendations of the parliamentary portfolio
committee which investigated the diamond mining industry of Zimbabwe.
There is need for beneficiation
and value addition for our diamonds in order to create more revenue,
build industry and create jobs in Zimbabwe. This would assist in
reducing the high unemployment levels currently pegged at almost
90 per cent. It will also enhance the country’s revenues by
promoting the export of higher-value goods than the current practice
where emphasis is on cheap raw materials.
Our new Constitution
enjoins us to ensure that local communities benefit from resources
in their local areas. Ideally, from a development and upliftment
perspective, investors should be encouraged to employ locally, i.e.
from the local areas, thereby benefiting local communities but also
other measures such as requiring minimum procurement of goods and
services from local sources would also assist in the industries
that are linked to the diamond mining industry. The province of
Manicaland for example, should by now be the diamond hub of the
country, hosting industries that form the supply chain to and from
the diamond mining in Marange. Instead, we have diamond cutting
companies establishing far away in Harare.
Our mining has to be
friendly to the environment. Environmental protection is now an
important ecological aspect of mining as part of a strategy for
One glaring fact is that
there is lack of knowledge of the mineral deposits across the country
and that is a result of lack of research and geological surveys.
The government itself has acknowledged that the last geological
survey was conducted way back in the colonial era and that the discovery
of diamonds was accidental rather than a result of proper exploration.
The dearth of research and seriousness on the part of government
is demonstrated by the fact that the Geology Department at the University
of Zimbabwe, the country premier centre of learning, was at some
point closed for lack of funds and staff. Man of our geologists
are working in other countries like Sierra Leone, South Africa,
etc. There is need therefore for a comprehensive geological survey
to ascertain the extent, distribution and estimate value of the
country’s mineral deposits. Current talk of the Sovereign
Wealth Fund and other instruments is not backed by proper knowledge
of what the country actually has.
There is absolute need
for accountability so that our diamond deposits benefit the ordinary
people. In this respect, I agree with the parliamentary portfolio
committee on the need for parliamentary oversight to protect the
interests of the ordinary Zimbabwe who should derive abundant direct
benefits from this natural resource.
The country’s mineral
wealth should not be a curse but a blessing for its people. There
is a critical link between the mining industry and development in
that revenues gained from the industry should fuel development projects
and support social services provision in local communities and across
the country. The people must see development and growth in their
areas not the wealth manifesting in private accumulation by the
elite. Further, transparency and accountability should plug the
holes through which a parallel economy has manifested over the years,
funding and supporting anti-democratic practices. We believe diamond
money played a critical role in the last election particularly with
the militarisation of the industry and the underhand dealings that
supported actors who manipulated the voters’ roll and electoral
of the diamond mining industry has created an unhealthy state of
affairs politically. It has cemented the relationship between the
ruling Zanu-PF and the military who now have vested interests in
the industry and therefore the continued rule of Zanu-PF. It is
clear that the investments by the military in the diamond industry
have created a strong interest in ensuring the continuation of the
status quo. It is also for that reason that the military and security
services generally have veered towards Zanu-PF politically and they
played a critical role in ensuring a
Zanu-PF “victory” in the July 31 elections. I would
encourage you, as intellectuals and researchers to pursue further
research into the role of the military in Zimbabwean politics and
the extent to which the diamond discoveries in the country have
influenced this role.
The new Constitution
now acknowledges the equitable sharing of natural resources, which
is a good starting point for a new dispensation, especially in the
diamond industry where a few people have benefited at the expense
of millions of people in the country.
Chapter 14 of the Constitution
speaks to the objectives of devolution and that the powers of the
provincial, metropolitan and local authorities, key of which is
to ensure the equitable sharing of natural resources. This Constitution
now empowers and gives more rights to local communities, particularly
in areas such as those where our large diamond deposits are found,
to demand their share of the cake.
We need to measure our
natural capital so as to better protect our social and ecological
heritage which may entail temporarily leaving our resources in the
soil and increasing regulation to ensure that broader objectives
The MDC’s policy
position is that we must have a Diamond Act whose objective is to
give ownership of diamond concessions to the State, the creation
of a diamond agency, a diamond regulator and to define down-stream
beneficiation and compensation for communities, among other things.
It would be remiss of me to leave this podium without talking about
the urgent need to de-toxicate mining from politics.
This will enable Zimbabwe
to avert the very real danger of using national mineral deposits
to prejudice or promote the interests of political parties as we
saw in the last election where Zanu-PF abused the country’s
diamonds to steal an election in broad daylight.
I have impeccable information
of how 30 000 carats were clandestinely spirited out of the country
in April and May this year by named senior Zanu -F officials and
military generals and sold through an intermediary in Angola for
the sole purpose of funding electoral theft.
God gave Zimbabwe these
natural resources as a blessing and not a curse.
As the MDC, we pray that they benefit the majority of the people
of Zimbabwe. We will use all the platforms we currently occupy,
especially Parliament, to articulate and protect the interests of
the ordinary citizen of our country on such matters where the innocent
citizen is being short-changed.
I thank you
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