Finweek English Edition - - IN DEPTH -

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

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