Zimbabwe has faced challenges in marketing its diamonds and recently the U.S. placed Anjin Investments, one of the largest diamond producing companies in the world based at Marange on sanctions.
The government is, however, pinning hopes on diamond revenue to raise money for civil servants’ salaries and pay other critical national requirements. Finance Minister Tendai Biti, who is in Washington, on Thursday urged the U.S. government to re-engage Harare. He warned that illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West were hurting ordinary people and not President Robert Mugabe.
He said the Zimbabwe treasury had also expected a $600 million boost this year from diamond sales but some of the companies operating in Marange were slapped with sanctions by the U.S.
Minister Biti said he had not received any money from diamond sales in the first quarter of the year. He was addressing the Atlantic Council, a Washington think-tank and policy group, on progress made in Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and how to move the country out of its current political impasse.
“We have a shortfall of $92 million. Part of the explanation is that there were no auction sales recently. But (the) question is, is there smuggling and stealing? People talk about that, I don’t have evidence of it so I am not excluding it or including it,” he said.
He said the West should ignore divisions in the inclusive government and support efforts to help the country recover from a decade-long recession. “Don’t look at politicians; don’t look at Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF, look at the ordinary people. The wait-and-see attitude is very retrogressive,” he said.
Biti said Zimbabwe, which defaulted on its foreign obligations in 1999, was being crushed by a $9.1 billion debt and needs $14 billion for rehabilitation and development.