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Chinamasa warns smugglers

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FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa says his ministry would descend heavily on diamond smugglers to maximise revenue for the country after he was reportedly whipped by Vice-President Joice Mujuru to act on smuggling syndicates robbing the country of much needed revenue.

RICHARD MUPONDE /
NOKUTHABA DLAMINI

Mujuru bemoaned the little revenues diamond sales contributed to the fiscus when she officially opened the Chamber of Mines conference in Victoria Falls last Thursday. Chinamasa took to the podium a day later and declared war on the smuggling of diamonds and other minerals from the country.

Chinamasa told the conference that his ministry was moving fast to plug all loopholes in the diamond mining sector to stamp out smuggling to enable the government to increase revenue from the legal sale of the gems.

“We should see that there is accountability in the sale of diamonds.

“We are going to plug all loopholes in the mining and sale of the diamonds,” he said.

“My ministry will make sure the issue of smuggling has to come to an end and that diamonds are sold in a legal way for the country to get the much needed revenue,” he said.

A report on the global diamond trade by the World Policy Institute last year exposed how illicit and corrupt deals facilitated by international groups resulted in the plunder of Zimbabwe’s diamonds.

The report revealed a complex structure of diamond deals and dealers that span the globe, looting the country’s diamonds for the benefit of a corrupt few officials.

Diamond revenues are pegged at a meagre $200 million per annum and the money was reportedly being gobbled up by salaries of the government’s 230 000 workforce. Chinamasa reiterated his earlier announcement in January that there would be no retrenchment in the civil service as the government was looking for revenue to sustain the huge wage bill.

“We are not going to seek a solution that looks at retrenchment of civil servants; our challenge is basically to grow the economy so that these employment costs achieve their role in a larger economy,” he said.

“We are paying people for sitting in their offices. That’s the sad status of our economy,” he said.

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