Zimbabwe: Gvt gets US$30 million from diamond firms

by Tobias Manyuchi

HARARE -- The government has received US$30 million from Canadile and Mbada diamonds, the two firms currently operating in Marange fields.

The dividend is from money earned from a diamond auction conducted two weeks ago and is not - as had earlier been reported -- the US$30 million raised from other pervious diamond sales that Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said is missing.

According to a payment breakdown, Mbada paid $24,438,457.00 to the government, while Canadile miners paid $5,568,174.00

Government shareholding in Canadile and Mbada is represented through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

The schedule indicates that ZMDC received a total of $19,388,721.17 comprising a dividend of $15,540,627.29, depletion fees of $2,294,031.15 and a $1,554,062.73 non-resident shareholders tax on dividend.

The under fire Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe got $401,455.45 while the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) received $60,218.32 in value added tax and $4,588,062.30 in royalties.

The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe received $5,049,736.07 from the diamond miners.

The breakdown of figures also comes two weeks after Zimbabwe resumed diamond sales after receiving the world diamond regulator Kimberley Process (KP) permitted sale of the Marange diamonds.

The Marange gems have divided world opinion, with African and Asian countries backing Zimbabwe's bid to sell the diamonds, while the West and rights groups opposed the sale, charging that the military killed several people while driving out illegal miners from the fields in 2008.

Zimbabwe finally won its battle to sell the Marange diamonds after President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC put up a united front urging the West to drop its opposition to the auctioning of the gemstones at a World Diamond Council meeting last month in Russia.

Revenue from diamond sales could go a long way to providing much needed cash for the Harare government that has failed to attract meaningful financial support from Western governments and international financial institutions.

Mbada and Canadile are joint ventures between the ZMDC and some little known South African private companies.

However critics say the diamond firms are fronting powerful political and military elites close to Mugabe.