Zimbabwe’s ruling elite is using funds coming from diamond exports to finance its Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), accused of several human-rights abuses while helping President Robert Mugabe to remain in power for decades, a report shows.
According to anticorruption campaign group Global Witness, the country’s diamonds are channelled through Dubai, Belgium and Mozambique by a complex network of cross-owned firms based various places including Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands, South Africa and Mauritius.
What those companies have in common, the London-based group said in the report, is business connections with either the Zimbabwe government or its military, which have been secretly profiting from the trade in a nation where three-fourths of the population lives in poverty.
The report singles out Kusena Diamonds, Anjin Diamonds, Jinan Diamonds, Mbada Diamonds and the Diamond Mining Corp. as the main firms that have ties to Zimbabwe’s intelligence and military organizations.
Official figures from the Kimberley Process show Zimbabwe has officially exported over $2.5 billion in diamonds since 2010. However, only $300 million of that sum has made into the country’s coffers, the group said in the report entitled “An Inside Job.”
Accurate statistics on the production and trade of Zimbabwe’s diamonds have never been published, meaning that the scale of the pillaging of the country’s mineral wealth has been hidden from public view, the report added.
Since their discovery in 2006, the country’s alluvial diamond deposits in the Marange field have been heavily extracted, providing generous revenues to miners and the government, but little to the population.
Several reports have tried exposing human rights abuses and corruption linked to the diamond trade in the southern African nation.
A 2012 account also by Global Witness claimed a Chinese diamond mogul ploughed $100 million into the CIO to fund covert operations against the opposition in exchange for diamonds traded outside official channels.
In 2013 a parliamentary probe into the diamond sector found “serious discrepancies between what government receives from the sector and what the diamond mining companies claim to have remitted to the Treasury”.
With debt of over $10 billion and deteriorating infrastructure, diamond wealth could have lifted Zimbabwe from the mire of unemployment, unpaid civil service wages and factory closures, Global Witness new report concluded.
Global Witness has produced a short film featuring members of local communities describing the impacts of Marange diamonds on their lives. Hear their stories here: