Tuesday, March 12, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Diamond miner hits back at Biti

COMMENT - The existence of economic sanctions against Zimbabwe is not a party political issue or opinion. It is not that 'Obert Mpofu insists' or 'Robert Mugabe insists' - 4 years ago in 2009, Tendai Biti (MDC) already complained about the effects of ZDERA on the economy of Zimbabwe. Those sanctions have not been lifted. Listen as Tendai Biti talks to SW Radio Africa from 4:38 onwards. (YOUTUBE) MDC finally accepts effects of sanctions (2009).

Diamond miner hits back at Biti
11/03/2013 00:00:00
by Brian Paradza

THE Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti of “politicking” in the dispute over diamond revenues and insisted that the government is entitled to 15 percent of net sales proceeds and not 50 percent.

Biti told journalists in Harare Monday that companies operating at Marange generated US$800 million in revenues from diamond sales in 2012 but only remitted US$45 million to the government.

Describing the conduct of diamond mining firms as “criminal”, Biti said it was unacceptable that the country should be struggling to raise money for this weekend’s constitutional referendum and elections later in the year when the diamond companies were generating huge revenues.

"I will be appealing to both the President and Prime Minister to make these companies pay. We are beginning to lose our patience," he said.

"It is irresponsible and unpatriotic and a breach of our laws."

But in an interview with New Zimbabwe.com, ZMDC Chairman, Goodwills Masimirembwa, said Biti’s understanding of diamond sales was “surprising” given his position as Finance Minister.

“What the Minister is saying is not true. The position is that after selling the diamonds royalties amounting to about US$102 million were paid to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA); and ZIMRA is the same as the Treasury because that’s where it gets its money from,” he said.

The state-run ZMDC is a 50-50 joint venture partner with about five foreign companies operating in Marange. However Masimirembwa said the partnerships did not necessarily mean that the government was entitled to 50 percent of overall revenues.

“(But) I don’t understand how Minister Biti loses this all the time. He seems to think that gross sales must be shared (on a 50-50 basis with the government). He seems to forget that workers have to be paid, we have to buy diesel; buy and repair machinery. In any business there are costs of production,” he said.

“This cost of production is about 38 %; 15 % goes to ZIMRA, and then you have taxes which these companies have to pay from the same sales. So I don’t understand where Minister Biti gets his figures. He is politicking that’s all I can say.”

With the economy still to fully recover from a decade-long recession and donors either unwilling or unable to provide any meaningful assistance, Biti has struggled to raise the cashneed to meet ever increasing government requirements.

His MDC-T party accuses President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF of diverting cash from the Marange operations away from Treasury, allegations denied by the former ruling party.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu insists that Western economic sanctions have prevented the government from getting fair prices for the diamonds on the international market and forced some covert selling.

[Minister Obert Mpofu insists... this is they weasly way out of the obvious. The fact that the Zimbabwean economy is under economic sanctions is not a party political opinion.

Back in 2009, Tendai Biti himself already admitted the existence and effect of the economic blockade against Zimbabwe.

(YOUTUBE) MDC finally accepts effects of sanctions - Tendai Biti talks to SW Radio Africa from 4:38 onwards. - MrK]

The ZMDC remains under European Union and United States (US) sanctions with the EU last month only offering to lift the restrictions on condition the country holds free and fair elections.

"The Council (of EU governments) agreed to delist the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) within one month after the presidential and parliamentary elections," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said when the EU relaxed some of the sanctions in February.

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