Army Invited To Stay At Zimbabwe Diamond Fields

Harare, Zimbabwe, 06 June 2010

A parliamentary committee consisting of MDC and ZANU PF Members of Parliament has proposed that the army presence at Chiadzwa be beefed up to cover even more of the area in order to "curb illegal mining".

Although it had been announced months back that the army was moving out of the diamond fields, the Committee lets the cat out of the bay by not calling for the army to return, but calling for them to remain.

The manner in which the announcement is being made is also rather confusing. The committee is not, in effect, recommending. The language used by the Chairman of the Protfolio, ZANU PF's Chindori-Chininga, suggests that decisions have been made.

One of these decisions is to force whatever investors are given the green light to mine the 75 000 hectares of diamond claims to use security recommended by the government.

The recommendation is already being actioned.

The army "will"train a special unit to secure diamond fields and this elite unit will be the only one approved by the government for the job.

This announcement, which means that the army presence at the diamond fields will become semi-permanent, comes as an activist languishes in jail after having been arrested on charges of giving false evidence to the Kimberley Process.

Farai Maguwu, director of Zimbabwe’s Centre for Research and Development , turned himself into police custody after spending days on the run, during which his car was confiscated.

President Mugabe has recently said that he will export his diamonds one way or the other, with or without Certification.

He has showed in recent memory that he is capable of thumbing his nose at international conventions and getting away with it.

Reports now indicate that Zimbabwe may be on the verge of exporting around 60 000 carats without certification.

Once again, the issue of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which ZANU PF now say are being bent to benefit only the MDC side of the Inclusive Government, has motivated the boldness in showing the world the finger.

There is nothing anyone can do about it because Mugabe is still very much in control and all these are his attempts to force the world's hand.

Of course, should they not oblige, smuggling the diamonds means that the proceeds also become murky. Where will they be taken to? Who will ensure that income from teh Black Market is properly accounted for.

And why should it be?

There is an election afoot, less than a year from now. ZANU PF will need to fund that election. There is likely to be no money of substance coming from outside Zimbabwe or even to be raised within ZANU PF ranks.

Everything, absolutely everything, you see happening between now (when the world is distracted by the World Cup in South Africa, and May next year, is a campaign. Especially from ZANU PF.

There is method to the madness.

Even teh banning of the export of diamond sales announced this last month by the government was also designed to achieve something: by denying even legitimate operations like Rio Tinto and Murowa the right to export, the government was, clearly, building a Coalition of the Unwilling to fall into line against the Kimberley Process, to unite with Government and the Chiadzwa operations in calling for a speedy licensing process.



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