9 March 2016

Zimbabwe: Alarm Over Mujuru India Diamonds Claim

Photo: The Herald
Diamonds.

VICE President Mujuru appeared to ignite a diplomatic storm Sunday after telling a church gathering that India had “built a whole town” from smuggled Marange diamonds.

Surat, a city in the Indian state of Gujarat, is considered the world's biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre.

The flow of cheap diamonds from Marange diamonds proved critical for city last year after processors there were forced to stop purchasing rough diamonds from big miners due to 20 per cent increase in prices.

Mujuru however said the Indians had prospered while Zimbabwe had nothing to show for its diamonds.

This is the first time a senior Zanu PF official has backed claims by the opposition that proceeds from the controversial Marange diamonds were deliberately diverted from the national coffers.

When the diamonds find was announced, then Mines Minister Obert Mpofu claimed that Zimbabwe would no longer need to beg western countries for financial support.

The country would earn about $2 billion in additional revenues from the gems, the minister claimed.

Instead, the diamonds have built a whole city in India, Mujuru, with a touch of melodrama,  told a St John Apostolic Church of the Whole World’s annual gathering Saturday.

Her comments came after the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper reported that Indian, Israeli and Lebanese syndicates working out of Mozambique were spiriting away quality diamonds from Marange for the black market in collusion with the diamond companies, while the miners submitted for international auctions poor standard gems.

To illustrate its point, the Mail said Zimbabwe earned $60 million from 960,000 carats sold through an auction in Dubai – compare that to $117 million Angola earned from 780,000 carats.

Mujuru took the story a gear up, fingering India in particular – suggesting diamonds spirited out of Manicaland were entering formal government coffers in that country.

Said the VP: “Iye zvino vakutaura kuti kuChiadzwa hakusisina mangoda. Hanzi akapera, asi hapana kana mukadzi ane mhete kana ring ribodzi zvaro.

Hapana kana anonzi akapinda basa rekupolisha matombo iwayo asi ukaenda kuIndia vanedhorobha rakakura ravakavaka nematombo ekuChiadzwa. Inonzi Surat … Asi isu tirikungonanzva madziro semapete. Aiwa, hurumende yati kwete.”

(Right now they are claiming that the Marange diamonds have been exhausted but no one here has any diamond rings or other jewels. No jobs were created locally in diamond polishing. All the diamonds were taken to India where they have built a town from Chiadzwa diamonds – it’s called Surat and yet Zimbabweans continue to struggle).

Government sources last night said there was “alarm” at Mujuru’s comments and their implications on Zimbabwe-India relations.

“You can’t make that statement without facts because you’re throwing mud at a whole country,” said the official.

“The claim that India started a town afresh with Zimbabwean diamonds is quite serious. It’s unbelievable. If that doesn’t trigger a diplomatic storm, nothing ever would.

“For a senior person to be making allegations of that nature, it’s very, very bad. It’s quite alarming. You can’t have a junior official even making that kind of allegation.”

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