HARARE – Government is inviting prospective diamond cutting and polishing firms to add value to Zimbabwe’s gems before exporting.
“Already we have firms with equipment and manpower to undertake that mandate of cutting and polishing, what is left is for government to have a clear policy where those with machinery and expertise are able do their work,” Fred Moyo, Mines deputy minister told the Daily News in a telephone interview yesterday.
“We have to create a diamond industry were we train, we employ our own people and export value added products. We are working on export licences for our industry which are relatively cheap and we are saying as government, let us export processed diamonds and create jobs in our own country, but this is possible if we have an industry.
“The ministry’s objective is to create a complete industry with trainers, resources and equipment, so we are consulting with those involved. I am talking about stakeholders for a way forward.”
The minister spoke as large quantities of Zimbabwean rough diamonds were about to enter the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre in Surat, India.
The European Union (EU) last month lifted sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and the five companies linked to it that operate in Marange whose operations have been certified by the Kimberley Process.
Moyo said realigning the diamond industry could help the country gain maximum advantage of its resources.
“As you can see, we are not a small player in the diamond industry that is the reason why Antwerp, the world’s largest diamond processors are here,” he said. “We have to take advantage of their visit and willingness to cooperate with us.
“It should give us zeal to develop our diamond sector so that we create more jobs.”
In 2012, over 20 000 jobs were created in the cutting and polishing industry in India from Zimbabwe’s gems while the country’s unemployment rate stood at above 80 percent.
Moyo said his ministry was working to have all local firms with equipment to begin operating by creating an investor-friendly environment that promotes value addition.
In June last year, government raised licence fees for prospective cutting and polishing firms at a time it was pushing an indigenisation drive, a development which saw over 20 firms shutting down.