A bitter dispute has erupted among present and former members of the Zimbabwean armed forces and members of the country's police force employed by a Chinese mining firm extracting of diamonds from the Marange field in the east of the country, including allegations of looting, the independent Harare newspaper Newsday reported Friday.
Newsday quoted sources as saying military and police figures are struggling for control of the operation. It said the dispute has generated bitter letters alleging the looting of “thousands of carats” of diamonds from other companies working in joint ventures with the government, including Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Mining.
Newsday said the dispute has pitted Anjin Deputy General Manager Ben Mabhenge, a retired brigadier general, against the firm's security manager, Zimbabwe Republic Police Assistant Commissioner Douglas Marekera. The letters include a reprimand by Mabhenge alleged insubordination on the part of Marekera, Newsday said.
In the communications between Mabhenge and Marekera, the policeman is alleged to have withheld information about mining operations from the manager, including rampant looting, tampering with security fences, illegal panning and a shooting incident as well as preparations for outside inspection delegations, Newsday reported.
“Our presence at Anjin (should) cease to be a bossing contest," Newsday quoted the retired general as writing in a letter dated September 17. "The dynamics of a revolutionary process dictate that the revolutionary tree sheds dry leaves, discards them, for the sake of (the) trunk," he said. "This is where we are.”
Newsday quoted Anjin insiders as saying the dispute stemmed from animosity between police officials on the one hand and active or retired military officials with high connections in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Newsday quoted Mabhenge as saying the assignment of police and other active security personnel to Anjin was to allow “broader latitude for debriefing" higher-ups, but said he doubted such officials would back Marekera.
VOA was unable to reach Mabhenge or Marekera for comment on the Newsday report.
Harare-based political commentator Charles Mangongera told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the dispute reveals how mineral resources in Marange are being looted for the benefit of a few.