Zimbabwe's efforts to declare its "blood-stained" diamonds clean is bordering (no pun intended) on the ridiculous, writes Tangai Chipangura, a columnist at News Day.
Reporting on the country's mines minister saying he wants Zimbabwe to police the 1700-kilometre Zimbabwe-Mozambique border to stop massive smuggling of diamonds from the Marange region into Mozambique and Zambia, Chipangura wittily points out the irony of the concept:
No concerns have been raised about reports that private jets of wealthy Chinese, Indian and other nationals with the necessary connections, land at Harare International Airport to pick up diamonds mined from Marange with payments for the loot done offshore. No paper trail is left behind, making it impossible to trace the illegal exports.
But we must deploy hundreds of foot soldiers and policemen to patrol the border as evidence of government desire to stop smuggling! Meanwhile, the minister was ecstatic about Zimbabwe’s final victory in the war to have our stones declared clean.
MINING.com reported in October on a presentation made to the Zimbabwean parliament detailing the secrecy, corruption and human rights abuses that accompany mining activities in the Marange alluvial diamond fields.
Hundreds were killed and thousands of local miners were driven off claims when the army seized control of the area in 2008 and most observers believe an international ban on these gems are being widely flouted. The report alleges that in contrast to the official $200 million, as much as $2.8 billion – equal to all other tax revenues – found its way into a parallel government via the army, police, prisons and intelligence agencies which all have ‘permits’ to mine there.