A US diplomatic communication released by Wikileaks concerning Zimbabwe have refocused attention on human rights violations alleged to have occurred in the country's Marange diamond field in 2008 as its military consolidated control over the area.
The November 2008 communication from the US Embassy in Harare states that, "In a country filled with corrupt schemes, the diamond business...is one of the dirtiest."
The cable said President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace, and other associates "have been extracting tremendous profits" from the alluvial diamond field in the Chiadzwa communal area of Marange district, Manicaland province.
The diplomatic communication also implicated Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono as a key figure in the illicit trade in diamonds at one stage, printing Zimbabwean dollars in large amounts (before the debased currency was abandoned in 2009) to purchase diamonds from wildcat miners which were then subsequently sold abroad.
The US cable refers to reports of the Zimbabwean military depositing more than 200 bodies at mortuaries in Mutare, capital of Manicaland province, the victims shot to death, some bearing the marks of dog bites. That information squares with VOA reporting at the time quoting Mutare officials expressing shock and dismay at the gruesome deliveries.
Alan Martin, research director with Partnership Africa-Canada, said the cable tends to support concerns that organizations inside Zimbabwe and abroad have been expressing for years about the gravity and scope of human rights violations in Marange.
Martin told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that the US cable should function as a wake-up call to Kimberly Process Certification Scheme officials who have declined to firmly link approval of Marange diamond sales to action on such rights issues.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said the leaked cable raises serious concerns about the transparency of Zimbabwe's diamond industry.