Anglo-American Corporation has come under attack from President Mugabe for milking the southern African country of millions of dollars from diamonds as the company “never revealed to government that there are diamonds in Chiadzwa” Mugabe was appealing to investors attending a Mining Conference in Harare. A recently Human Rights Watch report failed to identity the Anglo-American Corporation’s involvement in the diamond field.
He claimed that Anglo-American knew of the existence of diamonds in
Chiadzwa but never revealed that to Government only for it to secretly
benefit from the extraction of the precious mineral. “The Anglo-American Corporation did a lot of prospecting but never told us there were diamonds there,” said Mugabe. “From what we hear Anglo was doing some tests year-in year-out and getting diamonds out of the country” without the knowledge of the government, he added.
He said Anglo-American Corporation had lots of claims that are still the largest player in the mining sector “…so we say to them give them up. Let other players come in”. This revelation only serves to rubbish reports that diamonds were only discovered in Zimbabwe in 2006 and that they were used to benefit Zanu PF party officials. Mugabe’s claims could not be immediately verified.
A HRW cover-up?
A Human Rights Watch report released in June and which coincided with
the Kimberley Process team’s visit to Zimbabwe claimed that government
violently took over diamond fields in Zimbabwe last year and has used the illicit revenues to buy the loyalty of restive soldiers and enrich party leaders.
The HRW report did not identify Anglo-American’s years of involvement
in the diamond field and how it denied Zimbabwe access to a vital
resource. The report further alleged that the Zanu PF party smuggled diamonds out of the country or illegally sold them through the Reserve Bank; but was silent on Anglo-American’s activities.
Mugabe told investors the role of the military at Chiadzwa diamond fields where hundreds of illegal miners where killed by the military. “We had to clear the area and get it under the occupation of the State. The army was not there to mine but to provide security in the area and to take care of the area until Government got an experienced company to do the mining’
But the Kimberley Process has long urged the government to immediately withdraw troops from the controversial diamond fields.
In June Mugabe’s deputy Mining Minister Murisi Zwizwai refuted claims of killings in the diamond fields saying claims were a result of ‘unsubstantiated reports’. “Contrary to allegations in the media, nobody was killed by security forces during an operation at Marange, where about 30,000 people descended onto the alluvial mining field,” Zwizwai said. “These people comprised of cunning, die-hard illegal diamond diggers”.
Economists say despite its potential, mining has been constrained by problems such as erratic power supply, skills shortages, failure to access foreign currency and shortages of spare parts such as drill bits. Mining accounts for 3.8% of the country’s GDP, about 4.5% of employment and a third of total foreign exchange earnings based on 2007-2008 output.