Report says Mugabe's police running diamond mines

A report published this week by Global Witness, an international human rights group, says that companies mining the controversial Marange diamond fields in Zimbabwe have senior personnel drawn from security forces loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

The study, titled 'Diamonds: A Good Deal for Zimbabwe?', tries to establish the ownership of two companies, Anjin and Mbada, that have operated there since concessions were awarded in 2008.

Among the report's findings:

Anjin’s Zimbabwean board members include senior serving and retired military and police officers, and the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence. Control by the military and police over a major diamond mining company creates opportunities for offbudget funding of the security sector.

(Mbada) is named as a ‘sister company’ by a South African firm, Liparm Corporation, whose sole director is former Air Vice Marshal Robert Mhlanga, who is also
the chair of Mbada. Mr. Mhlanga was a prosecution witness in the 2003 treason trial of then MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai.

The report recommends that the Zimbabwe government pass legislation banning security personnel from controlling or taking ownership in mining companies; and that the government should review all current contracts in the Marange diamond fields.

Last summer Zimbabwe finance minister Tendai Biti was quoted saying the reality of Zimbabwe’s situation is that there is no connection between Zimbabwe’s income from diamonds, its output and international prices, adding the country’s resources are in danger of turning into curse rather than a blessing.

The military seized control of the rich diamond fields in Chiadzwa in 2006 and most observers believe an international ban on these gems is being widely flouted.