The Zimbabwean government has brought back the Chinese to the Chiadzwa diamond fields, three years after former president Robert Mugabe drove them out on allegations of looting.
Chinese-owned Anjin was expelled by government on February 22 2016, along with Mbada Diamonds, on grounds that their special grant licences had expired. Prior to that, Mugabe had accused them of massive leakages and smuggling the gems out of the country.
Now under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Anjin and Russian diamond mining company Alrosa will spearhead the government’s target of raising at least US$400m in revenue by the end of 2019.
They will form partnerships with the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
“Anjin, which used to operate in the area, is now back on the ground. We expect that it will commence production, at the latest, by end of May. We are looking at it being a significant producer in that regard,” said mines and mining development minister Winston Chitando.
The Russians and Chinese – Zimbabwe’s “all weather friends”, key to the Mnangagwa administration – take up the diamond fields after neighbouring Botswana passed on an offer tabled by Harare.
As part of Zimbabwe and Botswana’s bi-national relations, Harare initially tabled an offer that would have seen Botswana give Zimbabwe a US$500m loan facility – which is a US$100m more than the year-end revenue target. In return, Botswana would mine diamonds from Chiadzwa.
However, Botswana said that due to budgetary constraints, Gaborone would not be able to support the proposed Diamond Backed Loan facility.
Since the diamond find in 2005, it had been expected and targeted that the mineral would revive Zimbabwe’s ailing economy that was under targeted sanctions owing to human rights abuses and disbanding of the rule of law. However, the local community was only left with unfulfilled promises and human rights watch organisations accuse the government of using the diamond revenue to prop up the regime.