A non-governmental organization has alleged that Western interests in the mining and sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds, is the cause of its internal crisis.
According to research by a global development NGO, a powerful clique in the military and political sectors have hijacked and are currently exploiting Zimbabwe’s prized natural resource against rules and regulations set by the European Union (EU), despite the harsh realities of looming trade sanctions.
Global Witness has scrutinized Zimbabwe’s diamond sector since 2011 and the results are published in “An Inside Job” report that examines five of the major mining companies operating in the diamond-rich Marange region of Zimbabwe.
These companies have concealed their finances and shielded their operations from public scrutiny, hiding significant stakes in them held by Zimbabwe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), the country’s military and even government itself.
Global Witness is concerned diamond money is secretly financing institutions responsible for oppressing the Zimbabwean people.
Very little of Zimbabwe’s diamond wealth has benefited ordinary citizens — since 2010, Zimbabwe has officially exported over US$2.5 billion in diamonds, only around US$300 million of this can clearly be identified in public accounts, says the report.
Nearly three quarters of the country’s population live beneath the poverty line, and an estimated four million people are in need of food aid.
“A find that offered such promise to the people of Zimbabwe has delivered only disappointment, primarily serving a secretive cabal of vested political and economic interests. There are clear indications of state complicity in the expropriation of these critical resources. Given how opaque and secretive the sector is, what we have uncovered is likely just one symptom of a much wider problem. The people of Zimbabwe deserve to know how much has been made from their diamonds, and where it has gone,” Michael Gibb of Global Witness [http://bit.ly/2eTKe7A] said.
Mismanagement of the diamond sector has devastating consequences for Zimbabwe’s development and democracy — not only have diamonds failed to benefit Zimbabweans, evidence in the report suggests they have funded state machinery consistently implicated in repression.
Documents uncovered by Global Witness suggest the CIO has a leading stake in leading regional firm Kusena Diamonds, which trades its wares in Antwerp and Dubai. Its diamonds circulate freely on international markets, despite the risk they may have funded human rights violations.
Moreover, Zimbabwe’s military entered a partnership with a Chinese investor to establish diamond mining company Anjin Mining — evidence indicates Anjin’s diamonds were likely sold in Antwerp in violation of EU sanctions.
Mbada Diamonds holds the largest concession in Marange, yet the owner of a 25 percent stake in the company has remained a secret.
Global Witness has identified documents indicating Robert Mhlanga, a retired member of Zimbabwe’s security forces, and a strong ally of the ruling party and the President, is the secret holder.
Diamond Mining Corporation was formed as joint venture by the Government of Zimbabwe with a private investor, despite evidence that the individuals behind the company were involved in extensive smuggling of Zimbabwean diamonds for several years before obtaining a license.
The revelations come as Zimbabwe gears up for elections in 2018, and ruling party Zanu-PF is embroiled in a protracted struggle to find a successor for 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Institutions and agencies named in the report have played significant roles in subverting Zimbabwean democracy and perpetrating serious human rights abuses throughout the country’s tumultuous political history. Undisclosed stakes in the country’s diamond industry have provided an off-the-books source of funding for their iniquitous activities.
Whether the revelations will cause Western powers to think twice about the purchase and sale of Zimbabwean diamonds is highly uncertain. In May, Freedom of Information requests revealed UK officials turned a blind eye to the massacre.