An institute in Mutare, Zimbabwe, has challenged a recent statement by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu saying the military is pulling out of the Marange diamond field in Manicaland province, scene of alleged grave human rights violations.
The Center for Research and Development in Mutare, capital of the eastern province bordering Mozambique, said it has carried out its own investigation and found the military is not pulling out of the rich Chiadzwa alluvial diamond field.
The government is under heavy pressure from the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to put the field under the control of private partners and pull military units out of the area.
Harare has named several private partners, but companies including the Rapaport Group have said they will boycott Marange diamonds. And South Africa’s Old Mutual said it is reviewing a share stake in New Reclamation Group, which is among the companies Harare has invited into Marange.
Rights groups say more than 200 people have been slain in the Marange field by soldiers and police. A Kimberly Process team that visited the area concluded there were serious violations of human rights and extensive illegal trade in diamonds.
Director Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development told VOA Studio 7 reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that soldiers have only left the claims being worked by Mbada Diamonds and Canadiles Investments, two Harare partners.