Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
THE value of Zimbabwe’s diamonds is expected to rise significantly owing to the re-engagement between Harare and the Antwerp World Diamond Council.
Resumption of trade with AWDC — which has about 2 000 traders of the gems — should see demand for diamonds surge and consequently, the value as there would be more buyers on the market.
The visiting AWDC top leadership held a series of meetings with three Government ministers yesterday to concretise resumption of trade in diamonds between Zimbabwe and the Belgium-based organisation.
They held meetings with Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha and officials from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.
Both the AWDC leadership and Zimbabwean authorities were agreed that the lifting of illegal sanctions against ZMDC would boost the value of diamonds extracted in Zimbabwe, spawning economic boom.
The boom is underpinned by the fact that Zimbabwe’s diamonds would now be exposed to about 2 000 buyers under the Antwerp network.
Zimbabwean authorities are now expected to leave for Brussels soon to concretise the deals and interact with some of the diamond traders under the AWDC diamond network that boasts of 550 years of experience in the precious stones.
Speaking at a business lunch yesterday, AWDC chief executive officer, Mr Ari Epstein acknowledged that sanctions had the effect of undervaluing Zimbabwe’s diamonds, thereby prejudicing the country of revenue.
“We are truly convinced that the Zimbabwean diamonds are today sold significantly below their market value. Backed by more than 550 years of expertise and a critical mass of buyers and sellers, we can guarantee an optimal and transparent pricing mechanism,” said Mr Epstein.
He pledged to have a mutually beneficial trading arrangement with Zimbabwe.
“Honourable ministers, it is for all of us a new beginning. You represent the new team governing Zimbabwe, and from our part a renewed engagement. We look forward to trade within a new dynamic, by ensuring long term and mutually beneficial relationship between Antwerp and Zimbabwe, a relationship in which our experience, standards and knowledge are shared and put to the benefit of an optimal value for Zimbabwe,” he said.
Speaking at the same occasion, Minister Chidhakwa said the new partnership that had been conceived, would trigger higher value of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.
“I agree that the pricing, the valuation of our diamonds, for one reason or the other is really not what the world expects of us and we also do not expect that of ourselves. We hope that we can improve our valuation and certainly the fact that we have been removed from sanctions, now give us a wider group of buyers, business people who will not hesitate to come to us because they know that they are dealing with Zimbabwean people who are not under sanctions,” he said.
Minister Chidhakwa said he hoped that the EU, with the assistance of World Diamond Council would remove all the remaining sanctions on Zimbabwe so that it trades freely in every sector.
He commended AWDC for showing confidence in Zimbabwe, saying its decision was premised on the full compliance of Kimberly Process Certificate Scheme by Zimbabwean firms and the free, fair and credible July 31 2013 election.
Minister Chidhakwa also paid tribute on AWDC for putting up a fight on behalf of Zimbabwe to have sanctions removed on ZMDC.
“We want to ensure that beyond meeting the KPCS requirement, to secure the sector, to ensure that the process by which our diamonds are mined, marketed and logistically moved to other countries has the same level of transparency as those marketed elsewhere in the world,” he said.
Minister Chidhakwa told the AWDC that Zimbabwe had indeed held free, fair and credible election, so much that all political players were agreed that the polls were peaceful.
He said with the lifting of sanctions on the trade of diamonds, the sale of the precious commodity would be done in a mutually beneficial way.
“We recognise the importance of our partners, the people we do business with. They are not here just to be friends with us, they are here to make business, make money for themselves, to run profitable businesses and therefore we want them to benefit from the ventures,” he said.
“But we also, as representatives of the Zimbabwean people, as a Government, we want the Zimbabwean people to begin to say, yes this country is endowed with diamonds and we are feeling the positive benefits of the diamonds.”
MMCZ chairperson, Mrs Juliet Machoba said the lifting of sanctions would now open them up to 1800 diamond traders.
“We will have a much bigger exposure of markets as opposed to the situation we had,” she said.