ONE LOOTING E: MARANG MAIN WORLD’S OFTHE SUPPLIE S D DIAMON
By Sean Christie
in early March this year, not long after his 92nd birthday, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe made a shocking claim. Since 2008, he said, an estimated $15bn worth of diamonds had been extracted from the Marange diamond fields in Chiadzwa ward in the east of the country near Mutare, and yet no more than $2bn had been remitted to Zimbabwe’s National Treasury.
“Lots of smuggling and swindling has taken place,” Mugabe said, “and the companies that have been mining [have] robbed us of our wealth.” The nonagenarian ruler went a step further and insinuated that the people he had appointed “to be the eyes and ears” of government in Chiadzwa had been complicit in the looting. For Richard Saunders and Tinashe Nyamunda, the editors of a new book called Facets of Power – Politics, Profits and People in the Making of Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds, Mugabe’s sensational admissions could not have come at a better time. Beforehand, allegations of massive corruption at Chiadzwa had always been contemptuously dismissed by those in charge of the Zimbabwean diamond racket – a small clique of extremely powerful government and army officials, in partnership with a handful of mining operators. Their denials ran up against a lot of evidence to the contrary, but so resistant to civil complaint did this clique’s control of the diamond fields appear to be (and there has been plenty of brave and spirited activism, particularly in 2009 to 2010) that a sense of national