Zimbabwe Diamond Centre chairman Mr Lovemore Kurotwi says Government must stop exporting rough diamonds to maximise profits through beneficiation.
Mr Kurotwi said Government was losing millions of dollars through the exportation of rough diamonds.
Speaking on Monday during a display of polished diamonds by the ZDC using the latest technology acquired from India, Mr Kurotwi said in line with the country’s economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, beneficiation and value addition was the best route to economic prosperity.
He said value addition comes with numerous benefits, including employment creation.
“It is now time that Government stopped exportation of rough diamonds and seriously considered issues to do with value addition,” said Mr Kurotwi.
“It’s us who should take that initiative and foreign investors should only come on our terms.
“Currently, we are exporting several jobs and we are only getting just a quarter of what we are supposed to realise from our diamonds. We have no justification for not venturing into value addition because we now have the latest technology in the country and we also have highly educated and skilled manpower.”
Diamonds are traded using a tender system to both local and international buyers — a situation Mr Kurotwi said was disadvantaging local buyers.
He said locals were usually pushed out of business by foreign dealers who have “mighty financial muscles”.
“The tender system is not benefiting anyone because the foreign buyers are taking all the rough diamonds for a song,” he said.
“We want Government to ensure consistent supply of diamonds to local dealers who will in turn create employment for local people at the same time bringing in the much needed foreign currency.”
Mr Kurotwi said they had engaged Government over the matter and they were waiting for corrective measures.
“Our idea is to cut and polish all our diamonds locally,” he said.
“We are also not saying all diamonds should come to the Zimbabwe Diamond Centre, but to other local players in this industry as well. If Europe is the major trader of our diamonds, why can’t we ask them to come and do their business here?
“It is very possible and as a country we should start from somewhere.”
Mr Kurotwi said ZDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with diamond companies in Botswana to train diamond cutters and polishers.
He said most diamond producers in Africa had now realised that they were losing huge sums of money through exporting rough diamonds.