Zimbabwe’s longtime President, Robert Mugabe, has announced the state will seize all of the nation’s diamond mines.
Zimbabwe’s controversial President, Robert Mugabe, has announced a massive change to the country’s diamond mining industry, in that all assets will now be state owned. In a move that is a throwback to his socialist roots, Mugabe claims that foreign mining companies have profiteered for too long off one of the nation’s most valuable commodities and he will ensure that the nation now reaps the rewards from its diamonds.
Mugabe gave an interview in early March to the state broadcaster ZBC, during which he expressed his anger at what he sees as foreign companies plundering Zimbabwe for a precious, natural resource. Mugabe claimed that, in doing so, foreign companies made around $15 billion in profits, while Zimbabwe itself had only earned $2 billion in the same period of time and, as such, the diamond rich region of Marange would now be a “state monopoly”.
The Marange diamond fields were only discovered in 2006 but by 2013 they were producing an astonishing 16.9 million carats of diamonds, which is akin to 13% of the world’s rough diamond supply. However, this output has dropped significantly due to reluctance by companies to invest in deeper exploration. Industry group Kimberly Process states that in 2014 Zimbabwe’s diamond production was around 4.7 million carats.
While it is understandable that Mugabe may feel the country needs to earn a greater proportion of the wealth that the Marange region is host to, issues of corruption and internal theft are perhaps as large a problem as outside sources. As far back as 2012, South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki warned that Zimbabwe was losing much of its diamond wealth to a “predatory elite” within its own nation.
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