Russian diamond miner Alrosa and China’s Anjin Investments have been selected by Zimbabwe’s government to partner with the state diamond company ZCDC, reports local paper The Herald. The Zimbabwe National Diamond Policy says the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC), Murowa Diamonds and two other private companies would be permitted to undertake diamond exploration and mining. The Russian and Chinese miners have now been announced as those foreign companies. The National Diamond Policy is intended to regulate the diamond mining sector and ensure accountability in the mining, processing and selling of the precious stones.
Alrosa said last week it had set up a local subsidiary to start operations, and already has operations in Angola and Botswana. Anjin is one of several companies that was evicted from the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe in early 2016 during Robert Mugabe’s rule after the government said their licenses had expired. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa had put “Zimbabwean interest at the heart of exploitation of those diamonds only accepting foreign participation by way of selecting companies from Russia and China,” presidential spokesman George Charamba told the Herald newspaper. The two countries have political allies of Zimbabwe since the days of its independence war against British rule, according to Reuters.
Since assuming office a year ago, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been vocal about promoting a new era for Zimbabwe’s economy and tackling corruption, and his government is making moves to end the country’s international isolation and attract foreign investment to boost its struggling economy. Management of Zimbabwe’s diamond industry has been called a litmus test of the new government’s commitment to economic reform. Zimbabwe has also seen a week of violent protests and chaos, as well as reports of a brutal crackdown by the authorities after Mr Mnangagwa announced a steep increase in the fuel price earlier this month. The price rises were meant to tackle fuel shortages, but mean that Zimbabwe now has the most expensive fuel in the world, adding to residents' economic hardship. The UN has called on the government to halt the "excessive use of force" by security forces, amid reports of door-to-door searches and the use of live ammunition. The government blocked Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp messaging apps last week, until a high court ordered it to restore access.