Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Soldiers now a security threat in Chiadzwa diamond and gold fields

Soldiers and police officers guarding the Chiadzwa diamond and gold fields are now a threat in the area amid revelations they are facilitating massive looting and smuggling of the precious stones by artisanal miners who operate their illegal syndicates.

Diamonds in the eastern Mutare district were discovered in 2006 leading to more than 35,000 people being moved from the area before the government controversially deployed the military in 2008 during an operation called Operation Hakudzokwi.

It is believed that more than 200 illegal miners were killed by live ammunition by the military before being buried in mass graves by bulldozers.

The latest survey by the Portfolio Committee on Defence, Home Affairs and Security Services on the security of minerals: illicit trading in minerals and mineral leakages, revealed that security officers operating in Chiadzwa were colluding with illegal gold and diamond miners and traders at mining sites.

It was revealed that the minerals are then smuggled out the country to either South Africa or Mozambique before being taken to Dubai.

“It was highlighted that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in securing minerals. It is their duty to enforce the law without fear or favour. Their presence at ports of entry, along the border line, in and around mining communities and along major roads serves as a deterrent against illegal traders of precious stones such as gold and diamonds.

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“In as much as their role is appreciated, it was reported by mining communities that some deployed law enforcers collude with illegal gold and diamond miners and traders at mining sites, at designated and undesignated entry and exit points,” the committee reported.

People in Chiadzwa were openly recorded stating that state security agents had the habit of allowing illegal diamond miners and buyers passage into diamond zones in exchange for kickbacks.

“At some gold sites, it was reported that members of the State security had their own pits mined on their behalf by illegal miners and the gold produced would never find its way to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

“Inadequate tools of trade, lack of all-terrain patrol vehicles, poor remuneration and public intolerance of state security among others have been cited as some of the most common challenges faced by law enforcement agencies during the course of their duty.

“These challenges hamper effectiveness in the fight against smuggling of minerals,” read the report.

It is understood that by 2009, about 1,500 families were forcibly relocated Chiadzwa to Arda Transau, 40 kilometers (25 miles) away in new houses built by Anjin Mining Investments, a joint venture between a Chinese firm, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Group (AFECС), and the Zimbabwean military’s investment company, Matt Bronze.

Nehanda Radio, however, understands that the houses were not of good quality as they are now cracking and posing a danger to the community.

Companies mining gold and diamonds are yet to initiate the rehabilitation of houses despite several promises.