HARARE-- The takeover of gem-mining firms in Marange by the Zimbabwe government last year was unlawful, a Zimbabwean diamond industry official said Monday.
In 2016, the Zimbabwean government ordered all seven diamond firms in Marange to cease operations and merge into a single company, in which the government owns 50-percent shareholding.
Four companies agreed to join the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) while three others including two Chinese firms had refused and taken the government to court.
The cases are still before the courts.
Presenting oral evidence before a parliamentary committee, former chief executive of ZCDC Mark Mabhudhu said the new company was not legally constituted.
"For any institution that has government shareholding, an Act of Parliament has to be the force driving it but this was not done in the case of ZCDC," he said.
He said while it was a wise decision to consolidate the firms, the process could have been managed better to ensure a smooth process.
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa has acknowledged that disruptions caused by the consolidation process have slowed down diamond production in the Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe.
Last year, 924,388 carats of diamonds were produced, down from 3 million the previous year.
Mabhudhu said despite grades plummeting to 0.15 carats per tonne in 2015 from 4 in 2010, gem mining in the country remained viable if better technology and equipment were employed.
He said with the right technology, Zimbabwe could make more money from its gems.
Source: Philippines News Agency