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Plot Thickens in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Intrigue as Kimberly Details Emerge


A South African report quoted Kimberly monitor Chikane as writing that a former senior South African police official tried to convince him not to return to Zimbabwe for a follow-up visit which he eventually conducted in May

Controversy continued to simmer around the tangled saga of Zimbabwe's Marange diamond field as further portions of a report by Kimberly Process Monitor Abbey Chikane of South Africa were leaked in the press.

One South African report quoted Chikane as writing in the report that a former senior South African police officer tried to convince him not to return to Zimbabwe for a follow-up visit which he eventually conducted in May. The monitor reportedly wrote the former police commissioner of Tshwane, Mpho Mmutle, sought a meeting in April.

Chikane was said to report that Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cranswick of London-based Africa Consolidated Resources also attended the meeting and urged the Kimberly monitor not to certify what Cranswick called “stolen goods,” an apparent reference to diamonds seized from ACR by Zimbabwe authorities in 2006.

Commenting on the latest disclosure, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Coordinator McDonald Lewanika said Chikane should not have rushed to recommend Harare’s certification under Kimberly to export Marange diamonds.

For his part, Mines Minister Obert Mpofu said Zimbabwe will go it alone if human rights activists get their way and Zimbabwe is refused permission to export diamonds from Marange when Kimberly members meet in July.

Mpofu said Harare did not influence Chikane's report which is said to recommend that Zimbabwe be allowed to sell its Marange diamonds on international markets despite some continuing problems in the Marange field. Human rights advocates say violations continue and that smuggling of diamonds abroad is rife.

One of the leading critics of Zimbabwean government policy in developing the diamond field, director Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare, Manicaland province, near Marange, was arrested last week on charges he published sensitive information prejudicial to state interests.

Maguwu was arraigned this week in Harare and remanded to police custody pending trial. Disclosure by Chikane to Zimbabwean state authorities of documents Maguwu had given him contributed to his arrest.

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