Blood Diamonds in Zimbabwe linked to top leaders

By Scott A Morgan

The world has been cautiously optimistic over the new National Unity Government currently in Zimbabwe. After a year which saw controversial election results, a crackdown against supporters of the political opposition , a free falling economy and a devastating cholera outbreak, there was optimism within the country that things could actually improve in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe Vice President Joyce Mujuru: Links with diamond smuggling

Zimbabwe Vice President Joyce Mujuru: Links with diamond smuggling? Picture by Umusoto.

Sadly it appears that Zimbabwe will be suffering from an old African problem. This is a problem that plagued Sierra Leone and Liberia back in the 1990s. It is also a small part of the ongoing cycle of violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This problem that has only been addressed seriously for the last decade is the amount of blood diamonds that have hit the streets with impunity.

The stories that made the rounds were horrific. People not meeting their daily quota of mining precious stones had their hands cut off. It has been alleged that terrorists have used them to finance operations around the world and even been used to purchase weapons to fuel these conflicts.

First of all what is a blood diamond? Basically the best definition of a blood diamond is a gem that has been mined for illicit purposes. Since the inception of the Kimberley Process some years ago, the use of diamonds to fuel conflicts and acts of terrorism was thought to be on the decline. All gems were to be laser inscribed with a specific code that would tell where this particular stone was mined from. There have been several attempts to circumvent the process and most of these attempts involve Zimbabwe.

There has been more than one attempt by ZANU-PF to use diamonds to meet budgetary shortfalls. In 2007 there were allegations that the Zimbabwean government was skimming diamonds mined in the Congo in order to raise badly needed funds. So when these stones hit the streets via South Africa traders would assume that they came from Zimbabwe. In 1998 during the first of the many conflicts of the post-Mobutu Zaire, Zimbabwe was one of several nations that intervened in the conflict that turned into looting of the abundant natural resources in the Congo.

While most of the international media was focused on the elections that should have been resolved in March 2008, there was an attempted extortion plot last month that garnered little interest among major media outlets but specialists sure knew about . It appears that one of Zimbabwe’s two Vice Presidents, Joyce Mujuru, tried to threaten a British diamond executive after the firm refused to handle $15 Million worth of blood diamonds that her daughter wanted to sell.

This is not the first time that Joyce’s family has been involved in controversy regarding the diamond trade. The family has a stake in River Ranch Diamond Mine. From 2004 to 2007 the mine received aid from a UN owned company called African Management Services Company. It was also reported that vehicles from the United Nations Development Program took diamonds from her mine into South Africa. An investigation into this matter that was conducted last year has yet to release its report.

According to recent press reports it is believed that it will take at least $ 5 Billion to rebuild the fractured Zimbabwean economy. With the current state of the world’s economy it may be some time before the international community is able to provide the proper amount of funds desperately needed in the country. So this could be a decent explanation about why Zimbabwe is engaging in underhand diamond deals. It needs to raise funds but with international sanctions in place, the leadership of the country feels that they need to work around the system.

And that will create more problems for Zimbabwe.

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3 Responses

  1. I’m very sorry, but not surprised to hear of “high level” complicity in this ongoing problem. Regrettably, but not by coincidence, the “world” is too occupied by issues like the “financial crisis” (euphimism for “failure of globalization”) to be able to apply the much needed external inflences on this matter.

    From my frozen continent, it seems to me that global trade, especially with China has unleased and fueled a host of attrocities upon the people of the African continent. So long as there is a demand for goods made in China, some nations will be exploited at the expense of the people and THEIR resources, but only to profit the “leaders” and finance their attrocious campaigns.

  2. nobody gives a damn on the blood. World needs resources, cheap resources. If there are conflict in the area, they will be able to negotiate lower prices then if they would be peace.

    don’t expect help from world leaders

  3. […] written about Zimbabwe quite a few times, but this article by Scott A. Morgan that appeared on the Nairobi Chronicle website provides a good overview for anyone just entering the […]

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