The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) has refuted claims that Belarusian companies won the contract to buy Zimbabwean diamonds under an unclear process.
There are indications that the government opted for Belarusians who happened to be President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s close allies, according to Zimbabwe Independent.
This comes at a time when the country’s state-run mining entity Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) is battling to come up with a robust marketing framework. MMCZ general manager Tongai Muzenda said:
There are no companies participating at the auctions from Belarus but the problem could be on the ownership side.
Most of the companies participating in our auctions are from Dubai, Antwerp (Belgium) and India.
We have got a few African buyers especially from South Africa and a few from Botswana. We also have some other European countries that participate at the auction.
There are three players currently mining and marketing diamonds in Zimbabwe, that is, ZCDC, Anjin and Murowa Diamonds who are private players in the industry.
For Murowa all their diamonds go to Antwerp but for the other companies we go for auctions.
Muzenda said most of the auctions are held at the MMCZ premises in Msasa and at the Robert Mugabe International Airport depending on the agreements with potential buyers.
There are allegations that the Zimbabwean government has given preference to Belarusian diamond buyers to snap up the gems under unclear circumstances.
Zimbabwe’s relations with Belarus and particularly its leader took off in 2015, when Mnangagwa then Mugabe’s deputy, met with the Eastern European country’s leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Sources with details on the unclear marketing process of Zimbabwe’s diamonds told The Independent last week that Harare was now selling its gem parcels to Minsk, in part to circumvent Western sanctions, and to also finance “other high priority security needs”.
This year in July, Harare announced that it was procuring fire engines from Minsk through a controversial multi-million-dollar deal transaction that was strongly rejected by Members of Parliament from both the ruling and opposition parties.