Zimbabwe Officials Stole $2 Billion In Diamonds: Watchdog Report

November 13, 2012Zimbabweby EW News Desk Team


At least $2 billion worth of diamonds have been stolen from Zimbabwe’s eastern diamond fields over the last four years through a network of government ministers and military officials aligned with President Robert Mugabe, claimed a diamond industry watchdog on Monday, with concern growing that the stolen diamonds may be used to finance Mugabe’s elections campaign expected for next year.

"The scale of illegality is mind-blowing," and has spread to "compromise most of the diamond markets of the world," said Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a member of the Kimberley Process, the world regulatory body on the diamond trade, as cited by the Associated Press.

"Conservative estimates place the theft of Marange goods at almost $2 billion since 2008," the group added, noting that a 2.5 million carat stockpile, valued at around $200 million, had mysteriously disappeared in November 2011, while at least $300 million in diamond sales never made it to the Zimbabwe treasury in 2011.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Zimbabwe's Treasury have been lost in both illegal and legal trades," PAC continued, accusing Zimbabwean officials of selling 10 million carats of Marange diamonds to Dubai in late 2012 for just $600 million, when the gems should have been valued at $1.2 billion.

The PAC charged that the revenues from the Marange diamonds in Zimbabwe were going only to the hands of a few well-connected elite and to the military, who had been given special mining concessions. The diamond watchdog also blamed its own managing body, the Kimberly Process, for allowing Zimbabwe’s diamonds to be mined and sold without any form of accountability.

"Calls for greater transparency have been dismissed within the Kimberley Process," the PAC’s report said.

"The lack of transparency surrounding Zimbabwe's diamond revenue is matter of critical public interest and amplifies concerns for some time that these revenues are funding a parallel government,” it added.

On their part however, the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) dismissed PAC’s findings, claiming that “these are NGO attempts to derail Zimbabwe’s diamond sales.”

“It will not work. Where are they getting the $2 billion? And they should name these smugglers,” said ZMDC chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa on national radio on Tuesday, as cited by Reuters.

"No diamonds have ever gone missing…When we are selling our diamonds all stakeholders, the police, revenue board and the country's mineral marketing body come together. So are they saying all these institutions are in collusion? Instead, let them come up with specific allegations, then the police will investigate,’ Masimirembwa further claimed.

The Marange diamond fields, 400km east of Harare, have courted controversy in the past after up to 200 miners were reportedly killed during a protest against soldiers and police in 2008.

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Related: Zimbabwe’s Descent Into Darkness: Robert Mugabe & The Energy Crisis

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki called on Zimbabwe to bring more transparency to its diamond mining, and said that "diamond production must not be governed by a predatory elite which is in collusion with mining companies for its own benefit.”

"As elections loom in Zimbabwe next year, the country must prove that it is not a rogue state,” Mbeki added.

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