Harare sold diamond fields for a song

2012-04-21 13:38

Unprofessional conduct could be costing the Zimbabwean government much-needed revenue as it emerged that land worth billions of US dollars in diamond deposits was sold for a mere $5 million (R39.2 million).

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti revealed this during a lecture at the University of Zimbabwe this week.

“The government gave away vast tracts of land with diamond deposits for a mere $5 million,” Biti said.

Another case raised by the finance minister was that the government sold an area covering 110km² for $200 million.

The land has deposits of platinum, the second most expensive mineral deposit after diamonds. Zimbabwe is one of the countries with the biggest known platinum deposits.

The deposits were sold to China through its Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank).

Biti said the investors should have paid at least $20 billion, considering the deposits were worth $56 billion.

Most of Zimbabwe’s mining rights are owned by Chinese firms and held on behalf of the People’s Republic of China.

Biti blamed the Zanu-PF branch of government for these developments.

“I don’t often agree with Zanu-PF, but one issue (on which) I agree with them is when they say land is the economy and the economy is land. It is unfortunate that the 15 million hectares of land that was acquired during the land reform programme had no exchange component . . . It is dead capital. They know that land is the economy, but they are giving it away almost for free,” he said.

A recent report by Rapaport, a diamond watchdog, revealed the ownership of Zimbabwe’s mineral wealth is shrouded in secrecy to benefit Zanu-PF bigwigs who play a big part in looting.

There are also fears the money raised from the fields would be used during the upcoming elections to suppress opposition – hence the dubious deals.

Economist Eric Bloch said it was sad to note that the amount paid for the platinum and diamond fields amounted to just $205 million, which is lower than the country’s budget for 2012.

“The figure is very small for a country with a budget of $4 billion for this year. The money does not have any value. It’s daylight robbery.”

Zimbabwe is coming out of more than a decade of economic decay. The country is pinning its hopes on the mining industry to reboot the economy.

But bad policies, such as the indigenisation drive and the “Look East” policy, which have given the Chinese carte blanche on state resources, are doing more harm than good.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.