Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Diamonds worth $2 billion looted in Zimbabwe

By Sandra Nyaira

Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), one of the non-profit groups in the diamond watchdog group, the Kimberley Process, is today expected to release a damning report showing Zimbabwe has since 2008 lost over $2 billion in what it says is the continuing plunder of the country’s gems by the military and a clique from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu (centre) is a man of significant means
Partnership Africa Canada claim that Mines Minister Obert Mpofu allegedly siphoned about $20 million from the diamond industry in Zimbabwe using his company, Three Waters Investments operating from one of his Bulawayo properties.

Sources in the PAC told VOA Studio 7 that the alleged theft of Marange diamonds is perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil John Rhodes arrived in southern Africa.

The report titled ‘Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields’ will be released to coincide with the opening of an international diamond conference in Victoria Falls.

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Insiders said the report is particularly concerned with the lack of transparency in diamond revenues in Harare.

The report, the insiders said, would prove that despite government pronouncements to the contrary, the illicit trade of Marange diamonds is alive and well with a parallel trade in Marange diamonds continuing to thrive, with the full knowledge and complicity of top government officials and the military.

Sources said the report also singles out Mines Minister Obert Mpofu as one of the beneficiaries of the Marange diamonds.

Partnership Africa Canada would also claim that Mpofu allegedly siphoned about $20 million from the diamond industry in Zimbabwe using his company, Three Waters Investments operating from one of his Bulawayo properties. Mpofu says he does not own Three Waters Investment or other companies mentioned in the report which he says is “unprofessional and pedestrian”.

Partnership Africa Canada is also expected to challenge the minister to reveal his sources of wealth which the non-profit organization would directly link to the pilfering of diamonds by top government and army officials.

Mpofu vehemently denied the allegations. He dismissed the report as the work of a group sponsored by countries that slapped Harare with sanctions and bent on tarnishing the country’s image ahead of the Victoria Falls conference next week.

“I will not dignify those baseless accusations with a response,” said Mpofu.

“This is pure madness, rank madness really from a group that is sponsored by countries that do not want to see us benefiting from our diamonds. They can continue to talk but we will not look back, Zimbabwe’s diamonds are the best and they are hurting that they are not mining in Marange that’s all. We are used to this – they release reports ahead of major conferences and Kimberley plenary sessions but we are not fazed at all.”

PAC research director Alan Martin confirmed the report will be released on Monday and looks specifically at lack of transparency in Zimbabwe’s diamond dealings.

“PAC has found that while the mismanagement of Marange remains primarily a Zimbabwean problem, the global dimensions of the illegality has metastasized to compromise most of the major diamond markets of the world,” said Martin.

“Previously most of the illegal trade primarily involved South Africa, Mozambique, UAE and India. This remains the case, but greater vigilance by enforcement authorities should now extend to other centres, particularly Israel.”

Meanwhile, the United States will at the end of this month host the Kimberley Process plenary session to look at issues concerning the international diamond trade and related issues. Voice of America | Studio 7