Diamonds are natural partners to sport empowerment

By Ndeulipula Hamutumwa

NAMIBIA is endowed with a rich diamond resource base yet the benefit derived from this beautiful, rare and unique resources has not entirely trickled down to the local people. This alluvial type of diamond with one of the highest average price per carat have been sought after since discovery in 1908.

It is worth mentioning that the exploitation of Namibian diamond was one of the factors that prolonged the liberation struggle. Before independence, diamonds mined in the country were exported in rough form to international markets with no value addition. For this reason, the government wasted no time after independence to embark on a process called diamond beneficiation as a result of the mineral policy of 1998. This resulted in the promulgation of the Diamond Act of 1999 respectively.

In this regard, diamond beneficiation can be summarized as a plan to promote diamond value addition by turning the natural resource into shared national wealth. Namibian diamonds have in the interim benefited the nation through the creation of employment, and contributing revenue to the state through corporate tax, dividends and royalties.

The basis of diamond beneficiation was well captured in the 1974 United Nation General Assembly Resolution 3201 (S-VI) that “the State should have full permanent sovereignty over its natural resources and all economic activities. To safeguard its resources, each State is entitled to exercise effective control over its resources and exploitation thereof; this right being an expression of the full permanent sovereignty of the State.”

Furthermore, while addressing the 6th edition of the Africa Diamond Producer Association (ADPA) member countries a fortnight ago in Windhoek, Tom Alweendo expressed that the “rough diamonds are a special, unique strategic mineral that not only generates revenue for the diamond producing countries but more importantly has the potential to contribute significantly towards efforts to improve the lives of our citizens through job creation, skills development, value addition, technology transfer and intellectual property transfer”

Despite the above development, there remains much more scope for Namibia and her communities to further benefit from its diamonds.  While addressing an open letter to Hon Peter Katjavivi, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Abisai Shejavali questioned that “for how long will this painful situation of taking our raw mineral to western and eastern countries continue?” In the same letter he further stated that “Parliament must do something to enact laws that address this issues so that communities in mining towns, which are in the vicinity of such resources and indeed the entire nations are not excluded from benefitting”.

In conjunction, The National Minerals Beneficiation Strategy which is currently under discussion and envisaged to be finalized in August 2019 should highlight how communities of mining towns would directly benefits from the resources mined. The strategy should aid the African Mining Vision which amongst others calls for promotion of downstream value addition with the emphasis of community empowerment.

In addition, the positive contribution made by Namdeb, Debmarine and Namdia collectively in the area of sport development cannot go un-noticed. These efforts should however be extended to building sport facilities were diamonds are mined and processed. Botswana’ government has empowered communities were diamonds are mined by building national sport stadiums. May the empowerment of sport man and women in diamond communities be the answers to the wish of Hon Adimba Ya Toivo ya Toivo when he eloquently opined that “the struggle to develop our beloved Namibia and to share its wealth amongst all of our people, will take longer than the political struggle, but where there is a will there is a way.” Diamonds are thus natural partners to sport empowerment.