Harare: ‘Blood diamonds’ would be used to fund a new campaign of violence by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime against his political opponents, it has emerged.
Environmental experts have blamed “utter failure” of the Kimberley Process, set up in 2003 to monitor conflict diamonds and stop them from reaching mainstream outlets, for allowing Mugabe and his allies to siphon off millions of dollars in profits from Zimbabwean diamonds, which have now gone on sale.
Anjin Investments, a Chinese-led venture in Zimbabwe in partnership with Mugabe`s government, recently announced it was now the world`s biggest diamond producer, with a stockpile of three million carats to sell.
The company, which thanked the Kimberley Process for its backing, is funding a new military college in the country, The Guardian reports.
According to the report, the Central Information Organisation (CIO), Mugabe`s secret police, is flush with cash, and has bought hundreds of vehicles and weapons from China in recent months.
Salaries have been increased and thousands of new officers are being trained, raising concerns that they will be used to intimidate voters in next year’s presidential elections.
Campaigners also claim that many tens of millions of dollars from diamond production are bypassing official channels into the pockets of corrupt politicians and businessmen.
Mike Davis, of the campaign group Global Witness, which walked out of the KP over its decision on Zimbabwe this month, said no safeguards remain over the jewellery we buy.
The “blood diamond” has been allowed to flood back on to the world markets, and in the case of Zimbabwe, would undermine all economic sanctions against Mugabe, he said.
“It takes money to pay for violence and human rights abuses and the tap had been turned off for Mugabe and his allies,” the paper quoted Davis, as saying.
“The benefits from diamond sales in Zimbabwe are going directly to Mugabe and his allies. The KP is now a fig leaf for the diamond industry,” he added.