Activists are stepping up pressure on the Zimbabwean government to sort out the tangled legal and political mess in the Marange diamond fields of eastern Manicaland province where critics charge national resources are being looted by a small group of companies and politically connected individuals.
Human rights and other activists note that Parliament's mines committee was barred from visiting the Marange field, and say Harare must be pressured to impart transparency and accountability to mining operations there.
The mines committee is currently touring other mining operations. On Friday members of the panel visited the Shabane Mashaba Mines. A committee member said the delegation was emotionally moved as workers told of their ordeal at the hands of state administrators, having have gone unpaid for 14 months.
News reports suggested a Chinese company, Anjin, has been awarded rights to mine in Marange, becoming the third company to win such access. But the government has not confirmed Anjin’s presence in Marange. China is aggressively competing with India for diamonds in Africa, aiming to develop a domestic diamond industry.
Human rights lawyer Dewa Mavhinga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira the veil of secrecy over Marange should be lifted so Zimbabweans can know what is going on there - and how their lives could be changed for the better by the proper development of this resource which could fill currently empty state coffers.
In a related development, authorities in Mutare, the capital of Manicaland province, brought corruption charges against an executives of a London-based firm that is in litigation with the government over its disputed rights to work the Marange field. Sources said a magistrate arraigned African Consolidated Resources manager Ian Harris this week in connection with charges the firm corruptly obtained mining rights.
Harris was arraigned with former Manicaland Mining Commissioner Isaac Giles Ruswa and Mairosi Matinyanye, a secretary in the Ministry of Mines. Sources informed on the arraignment said Harris was freed on $1.000 bail while the others paid $500 bail apiece. The three were remanded until May 28, the sources said.