WASHINGTON DC —
The alleged looting of potential diamond revenue, estimated by President Robert Mugabe to be about $15 billion, has caused a stir in the country with opposition parties urging the 92 year old Zimbabwean leader to step down.
Opposition parties claim that Mr. Mugabe’s colleagues, some top state security officials and people linked to the ruling party should be held responsible for the suspected looting of the diamonds, which was once highlighted in 2012 by Partnership Africa Canada.
Partnership Canada alleged that at least $2 billion worth of diamonds were stolen from the country’s diamond fields and ended up in the pockets of President Mugabe's ruling elite. The same allegations were once made by former Finance Minister Tendai Biti.
Then Mines Minister Obert Mpofu dismissed these allegations as wishful thinking. Now, he is refusing to open up on the issue. But the latest revelations by the president and a state order for diamond mining companies to cease operations for accountability purposes, indicate that all is not well in the diamond-rich Manicaland province.
For perspective, Studio 7 reached Nick Mangwana, a Zanu PF activist living in London, and George Mkhwanazi, deputy spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party.
Mangwana said quantifying the amount of diamonds and funds looted is an uphill task.
“In the president’t interview he indicated that it wasn’t very clear, the computations of the figure was not clear. He said something to the effect that $2 billion had been declared but he suspected that it could have been $15 billion or more realized from the diamond proceeds.
“It basically means that by the nature of, let me call it a crime itself, in unquantified diamond carats it might be difficult for anybody to come out with a precise figure of what happened .
Reacting to these sentiments, Mkhwanazi urged President Robert Mugabe to resign saying that he failed to stop corruption in the mining of the gems.
“As people of Zimbabwe we are disheartened and dismayed that such kind of kleptomania has happened under the nose of the president and it’s actually very funny that he is the one that comes out now so say such kind of money was stolen.
“Where was he when all this was happening? Really, wasn’t he part of the scam that caused such kind of syphoning of such a strategic national resource such as diamonds in a country that needed that kind of huge or massive financial injection at that juncture when the economy was crumbling and needed to be mended?”
He said Zimbabwe was disappointed that “a whole president will come out now and look around and say such a thing happened. He actually must consider resigning with his entire entourage of cabinet.”
The government claims that it only received approximately $2 billion in diamond revenue from the Manicaland province’s Marange fields. Companies declared varying amounts in diamond sales to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.