Mugabe: Zimbabwe's diamonds should be forever

President sees industry boosting country's economy but bemoans power shortages and technology gaps at international conference

ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe on Thursday said the country’s diamond sector must shore up the economy, urging local gem cutting and polishing to add value.

“Diamonds should play a pivotal role in the economic development of our nation,” Mugabe said at a Zimbabwe diamond conference in the capital Harare attended by international industry players.

“The diamond industry provides vast opportunities for growth.”

Mugabe said the southern African nation is working on promoting the establishment of local diamond cutting and polishing centres to reap maximum benefit from the gems.

He bemoaned frequent power cuts and antiquated mining machinery as factors hampering the performance of the country’s diamond industry.

“Despite this huge mineral endowment, exploitation of the country’s minerals, in general, have been limited by factors that include power shortages, technology gap and uneven marketing conditions.”

“It is high time that we, as a country, focus on making the local diamond industry benefit and transform the lives of the ordinary citizens,” said the 90-year-old veteran leader.

Mugabe added that Zimbabwe reserves 10% of the diamond exports to be cut and polished locally.

Zimbabwe is among the world’s top diamond producers.

The country’s diamond industry has been tainted by reports of rights abuses including the killing and torture of unauthorised miners at the Marange diamond fields in the eastern Manicaland province.

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