Diamonds are Forever
Harare – The world gets a daily dose of the bloody paint that allegedly taints the gems mined from the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange, situated in eastern Zimbabwe.
And, if you live outside Zimbabwe, you might have this picture of shadowy and heartless companies that are making billions through mining diamonds and banking it in secret Swiss accounts.
But that is not the true story.
If you live in Zimbabwe, you will know that a diamond mining firm operating in Chiadzwa is synonymous with playing a leading role in transforming lives by bankrolling huge projects from education to sport.
In fact, Mbada Diamonds’ public profile ‑ thanks to huge investment in football ‑ is now virtually as big as that of Econet, the mobile services giant that is one of the largest firms in Zimbabwe.
Only two years ago, the Zimbabwe Premiership was an unbranded league, with just one firm sponsoring a knockout tournament.
The future was as bleak as a Nordic winter.
But things have changed in a very big way in a short space of time.
Just the other week, players and coaching staff were paid an appearance fee of US$100 each for participating in the Mbada Diamonds Cup first round.
With every squad made up of 18 players and seven officials, and 16 teams taking part, it means Mbada Diamonds poured US$400 000 (about R3.2 million) into payments for first round appearance fees alone.
Given that the appearance fee is paid for every round, Mbada Diamonds would have splashed US$750 000 (about R6m) into the pockets of players and coaching staff by the time the curtains fall on the country’s premier knockout tourney.
The winners will pocket US$100 000 (about R800 000) in addition to US$150 000 (about R1.2m) as a cash subsidy to underwrite their costs for participating in the next CAF Confederation Cup.
The losing finalists and other teams that fall by the wayside will split US$250 000 (about R2m) in cash prizes.
In all, prize money will total US$490 000 (about R3.92m).
Mbada Diamonds has bought all the kits being used by the 16 clubs, including tracksuits and football boots, sinking about US$500 000 (about R4m) in that alone.
There will be further payments of US$1 500 (about R12 000) for the player of the tournament, US$1 000 (about R8 000) for the best ‘keeper, US$1 000 for the top scorer, US$500 (about R4 000) for the best player in the final, and a similar amount for the one who scores the final goal.
A substantial sum also goes into taking care of transport and accommodation costs for the teams and other event management bills.
By the end of the tournament, Mbada Diamonds will have spent about US$2.5m (approximately R20m).
The MTN8, the knockout tournament currently being played in South Africa, offers its winner a cash prize of R8 million while the seven other participating teams get R800 000 each, bringing the total bill to R13.6m.
For a Zimbabwe Premiership that had virtually nothing, in terms of sponsors, just two years ago the transformation has been spectacular.
“The Mbada Diamonds Cup became the highlight event on the soccer calendar,” Mbada Diamonds corporate services executive, George Manyaya, told guests at a ceremony to launch this year’s tournament.
“Through it we reached corners of Zimbabwe that had not seen top-flight football for many years. We touched millions of Zimbabweans who passionately followed the tournament from start to finish.
“It was a truly humbling experience for us all and at this point may I take this opportunity to thank all the administrators, that is, ZIFA and PSL; the teams, coaches and players who participated; the local authorities; members of the media fraternity, service providers and all stake holders.
“At Mbada Diamonds our motto is harnessing diamonds for the people and what better way is there than to bring the game that the people love to them in their communities?
“We commit to continue bringing you the game and making it even bigger and better.”
Manyaya adds: “Many of you might ask why we would do this. In the context of the bigger picture our involvement in football is just but one of our many social investment initiatives.
“Mbada Diamonds is doing a lot in terms of giving back to communities, donating to worthy and deserving causes and contributing to the economic growth and development agenda.
“We have invested heavily in education, housing, infrastructure development and Water provision in our home and many other parts of the country.
“The mineral resources of Zimbabwe belong to its citizens. We have been privileged enough to be given the mandate to mine and exploit them but we are cognisant of the fact that we have a responsibility to the people which is why we do everything we can to give back to them.
“This is why we currently hold the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce National Corporate Social Responsibility Award.”
Mbada Diamonds has adopted Zimbabwe’s national team, the Warriors, and paid for their camping costs, allowances and appearance fees during their preparations for the recent 2013 Nations Cup qualifier against Angola.
Patience Khumalo, the Mbada Diamonds chief executive, says they will support the Warriors ahead of the second leg in Luanda.
“They have done the nation and us the sponsors proud. There is still a lot of work to be done but they have really improved.
“We are 100 percent behind them as they prepare to qual ify for the African Cup of Nations finals and will continue to assist them financially so that they achieve that.”