Thousands of carats of diamonds are being smuggled out of Zimbabwe from the Marange diamond field in the east of the country, a Zimbabwean research institute in nearby Mutare, Manicaland province, said Tuesday.
The Center for Research and Development issued a report saying employees of Canadile Mining, a partner in a joint venture with the government, and members of the military, have become the chief suppliers to illegal buyers who pay pilots to smuggle the gems out on their way to markets in China and Israel, among other countries.
The report came as Kimberly Process monitor Abbey Chikane pursued a second fact-finding mission in Zimbabwe, having declared that critical information was withheld from him by the government on his first visit. Chikane arrived in Harare on Monday and toured the Marange fields Tuesday. He was to meet Wednesday with a Cabinet task force responsible for Marange.
Center for Research and Development Executive Director Farai Maguwu told VOA Studio 7 reporter Ntungamili Nkomo that lack of security cameras at the Canadile plant in the Marange field made it easy for employees to loot the gems, and he said the Harare government must urgently move to put a stop to the plunder.
Commenting, analyst Joy Mabenge of the Johannesburg-based Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe said it is increasingly clear that elements of the Harare government do not want to crack down on Marange.
Mabenge told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the country must be careful that diamonds being smuggled out of the country do not fuel conflict as has happened in other countries like Sierra Leone and the Congo.