Zimbabwe's ruling party suspends top officials over diamond fraud

Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF party has suspended five senior officials on suspicion of fraud involving $700,000 of diamond proceeds, News24 reports.

In an unusual disciplinary move, the party of President Robert Mugabe barred a regional chair and four others over allegations they had requested money from foreign mining companies, claiming it was for their party’s use.

The fraud is thought to have centred on the eastern Manicaland province, home to the controversial Marange diamond fields.

Illegal activities surrounding miners are nothing new to Zimbabwe.

Canada-based diamond trade watchdog Partnership Africa Canada, said in November that about $2 billion worth of diamonds had been pilfered out of Zimbabwe since 2008 by a network of officials aligned with Mugabe.

“The scale of illegality is mind blowing,” the report said.

Those officials, however, have regularly denied any misconduct.

Zimbabwe’s diamond revenue is critical for the cash-strapped nation. There are high hopes for the mining industry to generate growth, as the agricultural sector faces challenges. The country’s GDP has slowed to nearly 4% from 9.4% in 2011.

(Image by IgorGolovniov / Shutterstock.com)

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