Zimbabwe lost diamonds worth US$17 billion not US$15 billion?


Economist Eddie Cross says Zimbabwe lost raw diamonds worth US$17 billion and not US$15 billion as claimed by former President Robert Mugabe.

Writing on his personal blog, Cross says the country mined rough diamonds estimated at US$24 million in eight years after the government seized the Marange diamond fields from African Consolidated Resources

After costs of about US$7 billion, nearly US$17 billion in raw diamond revenues vanished,” he says. “Even the President said at one stage that US$15 billion was ‘missing’. It makes the UK ‘Great Train Robbery’ look like pocket change.”

Several people including the fact checking organisation Zimfact have disputed the figure of US$15 billion saying there was no way Zimbabwe could have lost that kind of money because total world diamond production did not even reach that figure.

“Zimbabwe did not produce diamonds worth $15 billion,” Zimfact argued.

“The global rough diamond market averaged $12.63 billion between 2009 and 2015, with production averaging 126 million carats. During that time, Zimbabwe produced a cumulative 50 million carats, earning just over $2.4 billion for the seven years under review, according to data provided by industry watchdog, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme as well as other industry players……

“To reach the level of earnings claimed by Mugabe, of $15 billion or more, Zimbabwe would have produced an average 40 million carats annually, output which could not go unnoticed in the industry, given its impact on global supply.”

Defence secretary Martin Rushwaya told Parliament that whoever gave Mugabe the figure of US$15 billion was mischievous.

“When Mugabe announced the issue of the US$15 billion, we said to our colleagues from the Mines Ministry that they must come up with an explanation and asked who gave Mugabe those figures but nobody came out,” he said.

“Obviously, whoever gave the figures was someone mischievous and with an ulterior motive, maybe to justify consolidation of diamond mines in Chiadzwa because there was no scientific evidence that there are US$15 billion worth of diamonds in Chiadzwa. It is difficult to reach US$14 billion diamond output the world over in a year.”

Eddie Cross is an economist from the Rhodesian days. He is a former legislator and was at one time the policy advisor for the Movement for Democratic Change. He is currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Council and the Monetary Policy Committee.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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