Zimbabwe confirms army ownership of diamond mine

Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mines Minister, Gift Chimanikire, confirmed an army-owned company holds a 40% stake on Anjin, one of the most lucrative diamond concessions in the country.

The joint venture between Zimbabwe and China operates in the country’s Marange diamond fields, which – according to Rough & Polishes – has been officially opened for diplomats from the European Union and other Western countries to let them “judge for themselves whether human rights violations are still ongoing.”

Until today, only allies of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (photo) were allowed to enter the area.

All Africa.com reports the Deputy Mines Minister disclosure to the parliament proves the military's direct involvement in the country’s diamond mining industry.

Minister Gift Chimanikire told parliament that there was nothing sinister about the ZDI's involvement in diamond mining, and that "Anjin itself is a defence industry company that is owned by the Chinese."

But Chimanikire's admittances come amid fresh reports that the army, along with police and private security, is still leading a violent campaign against diamond panners at the Chiadzwa alluvial fields. According to a report in the UK's Sunday Times newspaper, witness have described continued shootings, beatings and the use of dogs by soldiers, police and private guards against illegal miners at the controversial fields.

The Marange diamond fields is a controversial area of widespread, small-scale diamond production.  It's currently awash with legal wrangles, government crackdowns on illegal miners and allegations of forced labour.