Zimbabwe diamonds give $600m boost
Harare - Zimbabwe's government expects to take in $600m in additional revenue from diamond sales next year, after a global watchdog lifted its ban on exports, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said on Thursday.
The windfall will give a 17%t boost to the national budget, which had originally been set at $3.4bn but will now grow to $4.0bn, Biti told parliament in presenting the 2012 budget.
"Our original budget for 2012 was $3.4bn but now we are anticipating additional diamond revenue of $600m," he said.
"We anticipate that we will be able to contain inflation below 5% in 2012," he added.
The Kimberley Process, the global regulator created to prevent "blood diamonds" from financing conflicts, agreed on November 1 to allow sales of gems from the eastern Marange fields, which have been scarred by army abuses.
The decision allows two firms, state-owned Marange Resources and state joint venture Mbada Diamonds, to sell gems from one of Africa's biggest diamond finds in decades but also the site of alleged gross human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch says President Robert Mugabe's army killed more than 200 people in late 2008 in an operation to clear small-scale miners from the area and Kimberley investigators confirmed abuses that resulted in a ban on the region's diamonds.
The ban was lifted after months of tense negotiations.
Under the terms of the deal, Zimbabwe will have to consistently share data with Kimberley monitoring staff, including on the identity of mine investors and steps taken to combat illegal mining and trafficking.
Civil society representatives will also have access to the area to independently verify mining activity.