STATE miner, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) has moved to vigorously market locally produced diamonds, whose value is mainly determined by public perception around how they are mined and benefits accruing to communities affected by extractive activities.
In its bid to do so, ZCDC this week invited journalists to a workshop and a tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange, Manicaland province under the banner, “Equipping the media to achieve informative and responsible diamond mining reporting.”
ZCDC Mine Manager, Admore Mangoma, told delegates attending the workshop in Mutare that the value of diamonds is derived from perception, reiterating the mining processes were free from conflict and thereby do not fit the category of “blood diamonds.”
Blood diamonds are diamonds mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, an invading army’s war efforts, terrorism, or a warlord’s activity. The term is also used to highlight the negative consequences of the diamond trade in certain areas or to label an individual diamond as having come from such an area.
Zimbabwe’s detractors have been agitating for designation of gemstones mined locally as “blood diamonds” in the wake of the early 2008 alluvial diamond rush characterised by illegal panners, who fought running battles with the army and police leading to some casualties before sanity was restored and awarding of mining concessions to registered firms.
“The value of diamonds comes from perception and that is why we have invited the media to sell the positive ZCDC story, locally and internationally, as we strive to fulfil our mandate as given by our shareholders to mine and market diamonds.
“Unlike other minerals, the value of diamonds is all about perception and the largest consumers of diamond jewellery are also the largest consumers of information and news that shape perception,” said Mangoma.
Diamonds are associated with strength, love and health and throughout history the precious stones have been worn by leaders or powerful figures to symbolise strength and invincibility. Diamonds have also been associated with perfect health and represent long life.
Mangoma said the same elite societies were the most dynamic markets in terms of adoption of social and political trends and reacting quickly to information, including negative reportage.
The ZCDC boss underscored the need for a positive portrayal of the diamond mining industry globally in the wake of threats from synthetics, which are laboratory-made gems.
“Media coverage plays a pivotal role in shaping consumer patterns in defence of natural diamonds over synthetics. The media can assist ZCDC to tap into revenues downstream…let us convert that to translate to revenue generation towards national development.”
ZCDC, Mangoma added, was a strategic national asset, which has managed to honour its statutory obligations, taxes, licence fees, royalties and pay dividends amid soaring revenue that has grown from a mere US$42m in 2016 to the current US$423.
Chiadzwa Community Share Ownership Trust chief executive, Hardwork Mukwada, dispelled the myth that past frosty relations between displaced villagers, who were relocated elsewhere, and government, were still ongoing.
“Recounting the past painful experiences of conflict in Chiadzwa is like recounting rape over and over again after justice is done, it serves no purpose. We have moved on. We have a good relationship with ZCDC.”
In order to cement ties with the local community, ZCDC through its corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, has managed to build schools, a health facility, a clothing factory manned by locals and manufactures personal protective equipment (PPEs) used at the mine, among other projects.
ZCDC head of public relations and community development, Sugar Chagonda said hosting of the media workshop and tour of Chiadzwa mine was a strategic intent which buttresses government’s thrust of having a transparent and accountable diamond mining industry.
“In a bid to complement government’s efforts to have a transparent and accountable diamond mining industry. This is a move to empower the media and expose them to appreciate our business, allowing them to fully understand all diamond mining processes, thereby achieving informative and responsible diamond mining reporting,” said Chagonda.
He said the State miner is deliberate and strategic about diamond mining which is critical for sustainable development.
“The diamond mining industry, particularly in the Zimbabwe is shrouded by a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions even amongst the media, resulting in uninformed reportage in some cases.
“It is our duty to engage with the media to inform, demystify and share the correct perspective about the diamond mining industry. We strongly believe that this will in turn result in knowledgeable journalists who will share correct information.”
The media workshop and tour of Chiadzwa diamond fields were held ahead of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) plenary session running from 5-11 November in Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe is the current KPCS and African Diamond Producers Association (ADPA) chairman.
ZCDC was formed by government in 2016 to ensure transparency and accountability in the diamond mining industry. – (New Zimbabwe)