Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Zimbabwe: $2 Billion in Diamonds Stolen From Zimbabwe Fields

A rights group says nearly $2 billion worth of diamonds have been stolen from Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields since 2008, with the money going to cronies of President Robert Mugabe.

Partnership Africa Canada says Zimbabwe's minister of mines, Obert Mpofu, has allowed military and security officials to plunder the fields for personal gain instead of using the diamonds to help turn around Zimbabwe's ailing economy.

The Canada-based non-profit says "hundreds of millions of dollars owed to Zimbabwe's treasury have been lost in both illegal and legal trades."

The group stated its findings in a 36-page report released Monday. Zimbabwean officials have not responded to the accusations.

However, a state-run newspaper [The Herald] reports that Zimbabwe Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has challenged fellow cabinet members to show any evidence they have that diamond revenue is being taken by the army.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has repeatedly said that money from diamond sales is not reaching the treasury, fueling suspicions of corruption.

Zimbabwe's military seized control of the Marange fields in 2008, allegedly killing hundreds of small-scale miners.

The Kimberley Process, which monitors the international diamond trade, imposed an export embargo on Marange diamonds in November 2009, but lifted it two years later despite protests from human rights groups.