New Zimbabwe Diamond Fields Invaded By Lebanese
These are the Chimanimani Mountains in Eastern Zimbabwe, where some more diamonds have been found and a new rush has started. Lebanese buyers are said to be the most active and persistent as they deal with the new illegal diamond miners, called panners because of the rudimentary equipment they traditionally use to extract the precious stones and minerals. Now that the government of Zimbabwe has publicly said it will intervene, it will not be long before we see another bloodbath like the one witnessed at Chiadzwa in Marange, at the original diamond fields of ZimbabweHarare, Zimbabwe, 01 February 2010
As more and more of the Zimbabwe's Manicaland Province area is discovered to contain even more diamonds than previously thought, Lebanese citizens have emerged as the major driving force behind the new surge in informal mining of the precious stones in the area.
The area that had been previously identified as rich in diamond deposits in Eastern Zimbabwe's Manicaland Province (Marange Diamond Fields) has been fenced off and parceled out to various companies despite the protests of the original owner of the Marange concession, Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR), which was booted out of fields and had its licence withdrawn for being British.
Now, however, it emerges that Chimanini (which, incidentally, means "a tight place") and Chipinge, also in Manicaland Province, have vast deposits of diamonds, which have not yet been "secured"by the Zimbabwe government.
The informal miners (panners) have now discovered these new areas and quickly moved in, selling the diamonds they mine these areas to the a vast contingent of Lebanese traders who have descended on the Eastern Province of Zimbabwe to buy up as many diamonds as they can before the Zimbabwe army inevitably moves in.
The Lebanese are working hand in glove with well-connected politicians in Harare and they have funded the panners to buy expensive equipment with which to extract the diamonds. So far, according to one Chief in the area, Chief Muusha, there are about 60 claims that are being mined by the illegal miners.
He says the panners are now a "security threat", using guns against each other and against any outsiders nosing around. "They even use them against dealers at the diamond fields", says Chief Muusha.
The emergence of these reports is a precursor to another crackdown in the new areas.
The reason why the crackdown is coming now is that the big boys have had their fill of the illegal proceeds, which are being smuggled into Manica Province in Mozambique on a daily basis. The new crackdown will ensure that there are no more new people coming in to the fields.
Before long, these fields and the new claims will be parceled out and controlled by the military.
But some people have become very rich in the process.
I suspect even the reports about the Lebanese are only coming in because the Big Boys in Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, can now not compete against these seasoned diamond buyers who are coming in and buying up everything in sight, ensuring that even some of the panners funded by the Harare Big Boys sell to the Lebanese instead of handing over everything to their political sponsors.
Manicaland police would only say that they had got the reports and "investigations are under way". One wonders what this means. What are they waiting for?
What is there to investigate when there more than 60 camps on the slopes of mountains in the Highlands where the illegal miners have set up permanent camp? What more is there to establish when the panners are busy firing guns at each other in broad daylight. What is there to investigate when bullet-riddled bodies are being brought to mortuaries daily from the new Diamond Fields?
One wonders. But I suppose they have to wait until they get a proper go-ahead from Harare. Then, you can rest assured, there will be bloodshed at the new Fields, just as there was at Marange. Helicopters will hunt the panners down while soldiers in cars and on foot comb the area to flush out all the illegal miners from their hiding places.
Oh yes, there will be a bloodbath. Yet again.
All that is being done now is setting the stage for it.
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