20 February 2013

Zimbabwe: War Vets Admit Mugabe Controls Diamond Sector

A statement by Zimbabwe's war vets has supported long held beliefs that it is Robert Mugabe who controls the output of the country's diamond fields, with fears money from the gems will fund ZANU PF's election campaign.

The war vets said this week that they want cash, as well as mining rights at the Marange based Chiadzwa diamond fields, saying they had applied for mining licences through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).

The war vets' representatives, Shadreck Makombe and retired major-general Richard Ruwodo, were addressing a Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs on Monday. Ruwodo said their efforts were being stalled by "a lot of politics" in the Ministry of Mines, which appeared 'reluctant' to give them licences.

"We have met ZMDC, went to Marange, identified the place we wanted, did all the paper work and signed a non-disclosure agreement and the papers were

physically moved to the Ministry of Mines where they have been bogged down," said Ruwodo.

He then went on to state: "We were told that if we wanted to extract coal it was okay but with diamonds you have to see his Excellency, the President."

Numerous reports on the situation at Chiadzwa have pointed the finger at the Mugabe regime, which has been accused of controlling who mines there and where the profits go. Finance Minister Tendai Biti has repeatedly stated that the national treasury is not seeing any remittances from the Chiadzwa mines, despite the billions of dollars the area is said to be worth.

A recent report by the international human rights monitor, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), accuses the regime of stealing an estimated US$2 billion worth of diamond proceeds since 2008.

"Marange's potential has been overshadowed by violence, smuggling, corruption and most of all, lost opportunity," the PAC report said, adding: "The scale of illegality is mind-blowing" and has spread to "compromise most of the diamond markets of the world."

Mugabe however has never been directly linked as the man in charge, and the comments by the war vets have strengthened calls for tough legislation to ensure the diamond sector is transparent.

The PAC's Alan Martin told SW Radio Africa that it is not surprising that Mugabe controls what is happening, saying their research has indicated this before. He said there is serious political interference in the diamond fields, with worrying consequences.

"The areas in Zimbabwe's government with any powers, are in the hands of ZANU PF, like the mining sector. Nothing has indicated that there is any political will by them to make the mines beneficial for Zimbabweans," Martin warned.

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