Zimbabwe’s $2bn diamond revenue nowhere to be found

More than $2 billion in revenues from the high mining taxes Zimbabwe charges to companies  —particularly to diamond producers— are still missing from the government coffers, with no one to officially blame, reports Canadian Press.

Despite being the world's fourth-largest diamond miner, mainly thanks to the vast and rich Marange field, Zimbabwe is still one of the poorest countries in the world. But the nation, until last month affected by European Union sanctions, is again demanding answers from its leaders.

Global Witness, an organization that campaigns against natural resource-related conflict and corruption, as well as associated environmental and human rights abuses, says its has strong evidence of links between Zimbabwe's two largest diamond mining companies and Zimbabwean officers.

"It is not clear where the money is going," said Global Witness spokeswoman Emily Armistead. "It appears there is a mixture of corruption enriching specific individuals and some funds going to security operations. Our concern is that it could be used to fund repression and human rights abuses."

For years the country's diamond industry has been fraught with controversy both domestically and internationally due to accusations of human rights abuses and corruption.

In 2012, 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.

Days later it was reported that a Chinese diamond mogul have ploughed $100 million into the African country’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to fund covert operations against the opposition.

Early this year, the country’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti accused diamond firms of failure to pay tax revenues in full to the authorities, claiming only $40 million out of an expected $600 million reached government coffers in 2012.

And in his September speech at the UN, President Robert Mugabe said one top mining official and ruling party loyalist had recently accepted a $6 million bribe from Ghanaian investors to obtain diamond-mining rights in Marange.

So far, no legal action has been taken against the official or any other person involved in alleged diamond-related corruption.

The nation’s total diamond production from Marange increased from 8,7 million carats in 2011 to 12 million carats last year. This year, production is expected to rise further reaching over 17 million carats.