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Can Zimbabwe Tackle Serious Diamond Leakages?

  • Gibbs Dube

Diamonds worth $15 billion were allegedly looted in Zimbabwe.

Diamonds worth $15 billion were allegedly looted in Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF and opposition party officials say it may be difficult to recover $15 billion in potential diamond revenue, which was allegedly looted in Zimbabwe.

Speaking in a political panel, Nick Mangwana of Zanu PF and George Mkhwanazi of the People’s Democratic Party led by Tendai Biti, agreed that plugging diamond mining loopholes is an insurmountable task.

Mkhwanazi said Biti, who is Zimbabwe’s former finance minister, tried in vain to inform President Robert Mugabe’s government about the leakages in the mining of diamonds in Manicaland.

But Mangwana said it is untrue that Zanu PF always wanted to work against Biti.

“I agree with him on many issues but what I don’t agree with him is this idea that Tendai Biti was some miracle worker who was picking up bits and pieces and everything was done to sabotage him because even after 2013 and we are in 2016 no money or substantial amount of money went into the fiscus, nothing went to the exchequer so it wasn’t about Tendai Biti … It wasn’t about the GNU (Government of National Unity), it was because there were holes, it was because there were loopholes and those loopholes remain because we are new in this diamond trade,” said Mangwana.

He said the government should tighten the situation in the mining of diamonds in Manicaland in order to benefit from the mining of diamonds.

Mkhwanazi noted that leakages in the mining of diamonds can only be stopped if there is political will. “But as long as there are some people who are benefiting from the leakages, they will be deliberately allowed to continue.”

He further said it was possible to identify the people who are linked to the alleged looting of the diamonds. “It is possible as long as they know who was put where to do what then they should retrace their steps and see whether those people were doing their job … What is it that went through their fingers what was not supposed to do so and then they hold each person in an area where they were deployed to account for all the leakages that happened under their nose.

“They should be able to identify these people and bring them to book. If the Chinese managed to spirit out these diamonds into their country or elsewhere where they sold them surely there must be a way to make them to account and return our resources.”

But Mangwana said it was impossible to identify the culprits and force them to put some kind of restitution. “ … (It’s) very unlikely the nature of the crime was to make sure that the water was as muddy as possible. We have got reports of an airstrip where nothing was going through customs people were just spiriting straight from the mines into the planes.”

He said the pilfering of diamonds was done by criminals, who should be brought to book, noting that the major stumbling block is that some Zimbabweans could have connived in the stealing process while at the same time some were too inept to handle diamond processes.

President Mugabe announced recently that his government only received about $2 billion in dimond revenue from Manicaland diamond fields. All companies mining diamonds have been ordered to cease operations.

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