How The Zimbabwe Diamond Fields Continue To Be Militarised

The Chiadzwa Diamond Fields remain very much in the hands of those who have always controlled it and new revelations show that the facade being put up for the benefit of the Kimberley Process people is very thin

Harare, Zimbabwe, 11 January 2010

I was shocked to hear the background of one of the key "new players" at the Chiadzwa Diamond Fields and I let you know some of the information here on this blog last year.

But new information coming from within ZANU PF shows that the whole thing going on at Chiadzwa is a charade.

For instance, the Kimberley Process people insisted that the Diamond Fields should be de-militarised and the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe pretended that they had listened.

There is now a private company running the security at the Diamond Fields, contracted by the companies that are supposed to be operating there.

Except all is not what it seems. The new security company, a supposedly private concern, is in fact a company owned by a retired Colonel of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, who I am told goes by the name of Rtd Colonel Bwititi. Which means the army is still guarding the place, but under another name. The object is to ensure that the Generals and Mugabe continue to benefit while pretending that the situation has been normalised.

Then of course, there were the revelations last week that one of the companies operating at Chiadzwa, Mbada, which I have said on this blog is very secretive and seems very loaded with cash before it has even produced anything to sell, has a very suspect profile.

The company's Executive Chairman is a former Air Vice-Marshal who is said to have been used by Gono and Grace Mugabe to do diamond runs on their behalf to Asian countries that still favour Zimbabwe and continue to host Mugabe on his holidays.

The Executive Chair, it now emerges, is still very much a part of the military establishment in Zimbabwe. As I write, he continues to have offices on the sixth floor of Defence House in Harare, the Headquarters of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, where all the Generals are based.

The"private company" that he heads, Mbada, is a "subsidiary" of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which is supposed to be overall in charge of things at the Diamond Fields, acting both as a regulator and an interested party (by virtue of being a shareholder in Mbada). 

Mugabe is desperate to have the diamonds at the Fields sold legally so that he can get competitive prices for them. Hence the little ploy last week of announcing an auction of diamonds from Chiadzwa that everyone knew would not be sold because they could not be sold until the ban imposed on Chiadzwa diamonds is lifted by the KP people.

These latest revelations show that the well-connected within ZANU PF continue to flout regulations at Chiadzwa, but in a legalistic world, where they can argue finer points of law and semantics, it is unlikely that anything will be done to them. They are likely to get away with it all.

As one source told me this afternoon, the Generals and the people in ZANU PF very nonchalantly state that there is never going to be any other party to run Zimbabwe apart from ZANU PF. They are deliberately modeling themselves on Angola. What is being done now is that ZANU PF is slowly abandoning Communist ideology and embracing capitalism.

One of the movers behind this new thrust is Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is now confirmed even by the Generals as Mugabe's heir. "He will rule this country with the backing of the army. The coup of June 27 is still with us," is what one source was told directly by one of the most senior Generals in the Defence Forces.

They all believe that, following the Angolan model, the West would not be able to ignore them if they thought that they can benefit from the wealth of Zimbabwe. There are hopes that, apart from the diamond discoveries, Zimbabwe, with the help of the Chinese and Angolans who recently announced a US$8 billion investment in Zimbabwe (at a ceremony from which MDC was banned and which was attended by Gideon Gono and other ZANU PF people), will find oil in the Zambezi Basin, which BP has said almost certainly contains oil.

The West will have to deal with them, democracy or no democracy, say the Generals. The West is dealing with President Dos Santos of Angola, who has been around for much longer than Mugabe, who runs what can not be called a democracy even in the loosest sense of the word.

These are the same Generals who say that Morgan Tsvangirai has realised this and accepts that he will never rule in Zimbabwe. He will have to relegate himself to being coalition partner with ZANU PF in perpetuity if he wants to continue holding any sort of office in Zimbabwe.

Looking at the way Tsvangirai is behaving around Mugabe and ZANU PF, this is not a difficult position to accept for analysts.

Which means Zimbabwe is doomed. All the people want is sadza and bread. The finer points of power politics escape them. The Generals and ZANU PF will make sure that provide the bread and sadza with the new-found wealth of Zimbabwe.

There will be no real development, but when you are dealing with the masses, bread is development to them. The Caesars of Rome gasped this simple concept in the cradle.



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