HomeLocal NewsArmy protecting diamond smugglers — British MP

Army protecting diamond smugglers — British MP

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British MP Peter Hain has claimed soldiers in Marange have formed syndicates of “illegal diamond panners” that they protect and escort while smuggling diamonds into Mozambique.

Debating on why Zimbabwean diamonds were “blood diamonds” in the British Parliament yesterday, he said syndicates in Chiadzwa were lining their pockets with diamond profits.

He said the targeted sanctions must be extended to those still exploiting Zimbabwe’s “blood diamonds” in Chiadzwa.

The former British Minister for Africa on Monday urged the European Union to extend the targeted sanctions still in place against President Robert Mugabe and top Zanu PF officials to include the “mafia” controlling the Chiadzwa diamond fields.

“Nearly every soldier in Marange is involved in one way or the other in illegal mining. Soldiers have formed syndicates of diamond panners whom they then protect and escort. Many of the diamonds are smuggled into Mozambique, to the town of Vila de Manica only 12 miles (19,2km) from the Zimbabwe border,” Hain said.

He used a recent report by human rights group Global Witness titled Financing a Parallel Government, to back up his argument.

Hain said the report confirmed that mineral rights in Zimbabwe were vested in Mugabe, who granted concessions and not the State.

He named several government officials as behind illicit diamond deals in Zimbabwe.

But Mines minister Obert Mpofu has profusely denied the allegations and insisted the granting of mining concessions in Marange were above board.

“We’ve seen with Libyan Colonel Gaddafi how banks, lawyers and businesses colluded in illicit financial outflows of national wealth. I fear that this is being repeated in Zimbabwe,” Hain said.

He added that Sino-Zimbabwe Development, another diamond firm which was offered a concession, but was no longer operating in Marange, had allegedly financed the Central Intelligence Organisation.

He also said that Anjin Investments, yet another firm operating in Marange, was a front for Zimbabwe’s military.

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