Grace Mugabe selling diamonds in China
By Denford Magora
I have previously told you about buckets of loose diamonds stored in the vaults of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe but what we did not know was just how this is affecting the “outstanding issue” of Gideon Gono at the Reserve Bank.
The American government recently put sanctions on people from Malaysia and Singapore who are apparently facilitating the sale of loose diamonds on the world market for Grace Mugabe and Gideon Gono.
We now know how these loose diamonds are being taken out and what they are then used for.
As you know, diplomatic bags are not searched, nor are diplomats when they travel through foreign airports.
Most of the trips that are made by Grace Mugabe, especially, to Hong Kong and Singapore are not publicised unless Robert “The Solution” Mugabe joins in. And always, there is a smokescreen when Robert Mugabe himself travels. It is either for “holiday” or “medical reasons” to see his urologist, who is based in Singapore and travels between Singapore and Malaysia.
Mohamed Kechik, who is said to be Mugabe’s personal physician in Malaysia and Singapore, has now almost entirely stopped his medical practice, and instead concentrates on “business”.
This business involves the Mugabes, Gideon Gono and some top Defence Forces officers from Zimbabwe.
Premises for cutting and polishing loose diamonds for eventual sale have already been established in Qingdao Province by this group, with the help of their Malaysian and Singaporean friends.
Of course, everyone knows about the voracious appetite Grace Mugabe has for opulence. This applies also to the lifestyles of her children and, although no one can say for certain how Mugabe is funding the University education for his daughter Bona, who is at a Hong Kong hotel, those in the know say that it is money from loose diamonds that makes this possible.
Already, bit by bit, loose diamonds are being taken out in handbags and in diplomatic pouches.
There are allegations that surfaced this last week that some of this dirty work is being done my military attaches in China, where Grace’s former husband is now stationed as a military attache.
The refusal by the army to vacate the Chiadzwa diamond fields is so that they can at least buy more time to collect even more loose diamonds for polishing and sale from their new factory in China.
Previously, it was thought that Zimbabwean diamonds were going out by way of South Africa, where the loose diamonds were “sanitised” put up for sale as originating from that country or from Namibia.
This is what informed the plea by the Kimberley Process Team for Zimbabwe’s neighbours to help ensure that Zimbabwe’s diamonds are monitored properly.
Zimbabwe’s diamonds are considered “blood diamonds” or conflict diamonds because of the persistent allegations that up to 200 people may have been killed at the Chiadzwa diamond fields as the army moved in and cleaned up the place, brutally dispersing the “small-scale diamond miners” who were exploiting the place.
While it is true that there was an upsurge in vehicles with South African registration plates in the diamond-mining area in the old days, these have since disappeared as the army put a choke-hold on the fields.
Any foreign registered vehicle found in that area is searched thoroughly and the drivers routinely roughed up.
The move is as much about protecting the loose diamond trade established under the table by authorities in Zimbabwe as it is about ensuring that national wealth does not get frittered away as foreigners buy the gems for much less than they are worth – the small-scale miners know no difference.
The extent and richness of the fields is betrayed by the fact that Acting Chief Chiadzwa, Newman Chiadzwa, who was is currently on trial in Mutare, was found with 8KGs OF LOOSE DIAMONDS in his shop.
Apparently, he had been asking desperate villagers to bring him diamonds to buy groceries and supplies with, since cash was in short supply.
He also owned a diamond mining supply shop and it is alleged that he also sold equipment to small-scale diamond miners and asking for loose, rough diamonds as payment.
All this makes it unlikely that you will find any resolution to the Chiadzwa issue any time soon. The army has refused to move off, prompting the Kimberley Process to call for a ban on Zimbabwe diamonds worldwide.
All that this will do is ensure that the army remains in charge and loose diamonds continue to be spirited away to China to be invested in the lifestyles of Zimbabwe’s ruling class. No company will want to partner the government-owned company that is now nominally in charge of mining at the diamonds fields.
By the time the whole mess is sorted out, quite a number of Zimbabwe’s ruling class would have built empires, fortunes and vast investments on the back of smuggled loose diamonds, cut and polished in China and sold, as one source put in, “in the alleyways and backyards of Hong Kong and China.”
Even as the MDC is aware that this is happening, Tsvangirai is powerless to do anything about it because of his fear of Zimbabwe’s military, who only recently decided to pay him token respect in exchange for being left alone to pursue their trade in loose diamonds and continue milking the state and the fields themselves.