Western envoys tour Zim diamond fields
27 June 2012, 11:30
Marange - Western diplomats on Tuesday toured
controversial diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe where rights groups
have reported abuses by security forces pushing out illegal panners.
visit, the first by foreign diplomats to the high-security diamond
fields, saw ambassadors led by the European Union head of delegation to
Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Ariccia, touring two mines, the Chinese-owned Anjin
and Marange Resources where officials led them through the extraction
The diplomats asked the Anjin management how much
revenue they had remitted to the government following a complaint by
Finance Minister Tendai Biti that the treasury is yet to receive money
from the firm since the start of the year.
Munyaradzi Machacha, a
director at Anjin disputed Biti's projection that earnings from diamond
mining would contribute $600m to state coffers.
contributed $30m to the fiscus through royalties because an average
price of a single carat is $60 and not $1 500 as projected by the
Minister of Finance Tendai Biti," Machacha told the envoys.
added "Biti should be man enough to tell the world that he made a
mistake in his budget presentation on revenue coming from diamond sales
as figures he projected an amount way off the mark".
Machacha said Anjin is yet to break even and recover around $400m invested by the Chinese into the operation.
from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France,
Germany and Spain were set to continue the tour on Wednesday.
Human rights violations
are due to visit to a settlement where villagers who were removed from
the vast Marange diamond area, about 330km southeast of the capital
Harare, were relocated.
The Marange fields, one of Africa's
biggest diamond finds in recent years, have witnessed gross human rights
violations, according to rights groups.
The Zimbabwean army
cleared small-scale miners from the area in late 2008 in an operation
that Human Rights Watch says killed more than 200 people.
groups accuse Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, which shares power with the MDC in
a tense coalition government, of funnelling profits from Marange
diamonds to senior military officials and party leaders.
watchdog, Kimberley Process has given the country the green light to
sell its gems despite opposition from rights groups and Western nations.