Zimbabwe Diamond Chief In Court

Acting Chief Chiadzwa, Newman Chiadzwa is in court facing charges of being unlawfully in possession of more than 42 thousand carats of diamonds in his shop, where it was said he was exchanging diamonds from small-scale miners (above) for commodities like sugar and clothes. In all this, it is this naked exploitation of fellow Zimbabweans that should make the stomach turn.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 August 2009

The Inclusive government of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe is prosecuting a chief from the Chiadzwa diamond area in court over possession of 8kgs of diamonds. This is the same chief who was reported last week by The Standard to have gone into hiding from the police.

He is being tried in Mutare.

They finally caught him, apparently.

The trial is almost certainly part of the strategy of this government to deny the people of Chiadzwa any benefit from the riches found in their ancestral soil. But the man who is standing as champion for the people of Chiadzwa is interesting to say the least.

The massive haul of diamonds found on him he claims belonged to his dead father. But those who reported him said he was accepting diamonds as currency in his shops in the area.

The history of Newman Chiadzwa (Acting Chief, Diamond Fields) is rather odd. Government openly refers to him as an MDC-T activist. In 2003, he successfully appealed against a fine and sentence imposed on him on charges of selling counterfeit sculptures of the famed Shona Sculptor Dominic Benhura.

His appeal, cleverly argued that Benhura did not object to copyright infringement but to the "idea" of a female form sculpted without limbs. This was a ridiculous thing to claim ownership of and Justice Makarau found in his favour.

The man owns two sculpture galleries, one along Masvingo Road (leading to South Africa through Beitbridge), which is situated near the Boka Auction floors. The other is at Africa Gallery, along Chiremba Road (Hatfield area).

All the same, it is clear that the Government wants him out of the way. He has had his vehicles driven off, never to be seen again, he has lost cattle, he says, to the soldiers manning the Diamond Fields.

It appears the government is also fighting him directly, undermining the Chieftainship over Chiadzwa, which he holds and which he is using to refuse to move off the Diamond Fields without adequate compensation, perhaps even a profit-sharing arrangement like we have under Campfire, where proceeds from game hunted in any area are used to improve its infrastructure and create employment.

First, the government is alleged to have started a fight amongst the Chiadzwa families after the diamonds had been discovered. They pitted a Chiadzwa against a Chiadzwa. The problem, as government saw it, was that the current chief, Newman Chiadzwa, was too clever by half and wanted to be compensated for the removal of his people from the Damond Fields.

Government apparently just wants to dump these people at the furthest area from Chiadzwa and leave them to their own devices. The diamonds found on their land will not benefit them in any way, except if some end up employed there.

So the government decided to find someone else to make a claim to the chieftainship, someone more amenable to government plans. But Chiadzwa also has his backers, apparently.

So there is now officially a "Chiadzwa Chieftainship claim dispute."

Chiadzwa hires very good lawyers, he can afford them.

He tried today to delay the proceedings by petitioning the court to allow time for him to unearth footage from ZBC from 2002 or thereabouts, which he says proves that he did nothing wrong as what he did (he freely admits having the 8kgs of diamonds) was in line with professed government policy on the mines back then.

8kgs of diamonds is not a joke. Canada, the third largest producer of diamonds in the world after Botswana and Russia, produces 1.5kilos of diamonds per day. That bag is worth US$1.5 million to Canada. That's the whole of Canada.

Newman Chiadzwa had nearly six times as much floating around the back of his Range Rover Sport? Or whatever it is that he drives?

It may well be that the Acting Chief, once he gets a conviction against him, will be barred by Ignatius Chombo, the ZANU PF Minister in charge of Chiefs, from assuming office and stripped of it.

Which would leave the coast clear.

Indeed, there is much more than meets the eye at Chiadzwa Diamond Fields.

But, as ever, ZANU PF factions have gotten involved. They both want control and influence over those fields.


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