Privatise Zimbabwe Diamond Sector

HARARE – A leading minerals expert has called upon Zimbabwe’s government to scale up private sector investments into its diamonds sector if the southern African country is to benefit from its resource, which is rated among the biggest in the world.

John Halloway, who in May published a book detailing the history of the southern African country’s mining industry, said private sector investment would be imperative to rope in well recognised global players and attract other investors into the diamonds industry.

His book is called Mining in Zimbabwe.

Halloway suggested that De Beers, the South African mining giant known for its extensive experience in African diamonds, would be well placed to drive the sector.

“Invite De Beers to take control of control of the diamonds sector, under government,” said Halloway, one of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe’s leading consultants.

“If they agree (I have to acknowledge that it is not all that likely) their presence will greatly encourage mining investment in other sectors,” he said in his paper that was presented at a recent conference.

He said Zimbabwe, which operates the Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), must sell of its stake to private players.

“Sell the remaining assets of ZMDC,” Halloway advised, noting that it was also important for the country to stimulate investments in the mining sector through financial incentives.

“The evidence is plain-provide investors with a long-term hard currency environment and secure property rights and they will come. Do not take a ‘free ride’ government shareholding, even if offered. The government directors will be torn between the dire for profit and the constraints of administrative probity,” he added.

Zimbabwe has struggled to recapitalise ZMDC, which has interests in several minerals, including asbestos and gold, as well as in lithium, a newly discovered mineral that is highly demanded on the global markets.