MINES and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu yesterday dismissed a new report by a Canadian group campaigning against conflict diamonds claiming that government officials and military chiefs have siphoned at least $2 billion worth of diamonds from Marange.
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
In a report released on Monday, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) said Marange had seen “the biggest plunder of diamonds since Cecil Rhodes”.
Rhodes led the colonisation of Zimbabwe over a century ago and was at the forefront of exploiting South Africa’s diamonds.
PAC is a member of the Kimberley Process, which was set up to stop trade in diamonds that finance conflict, and the report coincided with Zimbabwe’s inaugural diamond conference held in Victoria Falls.
The report said the Marange diamonds had only benefited a wellconnected elite and that the military had been given mining concessions.
But Mpofu told the Voice of America that the report was “nonsensical” and the work of detractors.
“The first thing about detractors is: Who do they want to please by raising issues which are only nonsensical?
“They always run around to do those things,” he said.
“This is sponsored by their governments who imposed sanctions on us. It is real a desperate attempt by people who are criminals just to create a smokescreen.”
He said it was a smokescreen to steal the thunder from the diamond conference at Victoria Falls, which ended yesterday, that was meant to clean the image of Zimbabwe’s diamond sector.
Mpofu was named in the report as one of the people behind the plunder of the diamond-rich area in Manicaland.
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa also denied the charges that the diamonds were being looted.
“These are NGO attempts to derail Zimbabwe’s diamond sales, but it will not work,” he told ZBC yesterday.
“Where are they getting the $2 billion? And they should name these smugglers.”
Finance minister Tendai Biti was forced to reduce projected diamond revenue from $600 million to $150 million after the mining companies failed to meet the targets.