As reported in the Professional Jeweller

by Kat Slowe

Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF political and military elite are seeking to capture the country’s diamond wealth through a combination of state-sponsored violence and legally questionable opaque joint-venture companies, claimed new Global Witness report ‘Return of the blood diamonds’.

The report criticised the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, set up to end the trade in blood diamonds, for repeatedly failing to react effectively to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Global Witness campaigner Elly Harrowell said: “Over the past three years, the national army has visited appalling abuses on civilians in Marange’s diamond fields. Nobody has been held to account for these crimes, and now it turns out that the joint venture companies nominally brought in to improve conditions are directly linked to the Zanu PF and military elite. Thanks to the impunity and violence in Zimbabwe, blood diamonds are back on the international market.”

The Global Witness report described how the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, a Zanu PF stalwart, had been at the forefront of efforts to block oversight of the joint venture companies, Canadile Miners and Mdaba Diamonds. It said he had imposed his allies as board members, and sidelined the state mining company, ZMDC. Mbada Diamonds is chaired by Robert Mhlanga, former Air Vice Marshal, and erstwhile star witness at Morgan Tsvangirai’s trial for treason.

Harrowell said: “The investment deals have been done with scant regard for legal process against a background of violence and intimidation, and are dangerously lacking in transparency. This leaves the door wide open for state looting and corruption, and raises the very real possibility of internationally certified diamonds financing renewed political violence in Zimbabwe.”

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