Police force units the world over are not known for their mining prowls but that could soon change in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe police have indicated their strong intentions of venturing in
to the controversial diamond mining sector. Following the seriousness of the force a security company called Security Self-Reliance Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd has been established. And an application to the ministry of Mines has been lodged.
Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri wrote on April 9 to Mines minister Obert Mpofu asking for a mining concession for the law enforcement agency in Marange.
Wrote Chihuri: “The above subject is pertinent. I make reference to my
discussion in the office with you Honourable minister on the 21st of
March 2010 concerning the above subject,”
“Honourable minister, after scanning the environment and a thorough
analysis of the opportunities available, I wish to submit the Zimbabwe
Republic Police’s application for the areas in Chiyadzwa, Marange,
marked on the map appended to the attached company profile document. I
hope and trust that this application will meet your favourable consideration” he added.
The involvement of the police — alongside other security agencies — would bring vast swathes of Chiadzwa under the control of companies whose mining contracts facilitated by government officials have not been secured in a transparent manner.
The international diamond watchdog – the Kimberley Process — has
previously expressed concerns over human rights abuses at the diamond
mine and gave Zimbabwe up to June to meet certain benchmarks – including withdrawing the army – to avoid blacklisting.
Zimbabwe’s diamond fields around Chiadzwa, about 20 miles north-west
of the town of Mutare in eastern Manicaland province right at the
Mozambican border, have been turned into a war-zone by the Zimbabwean government.
Local residents describe it as a “massacre” in which police and defence force details swoop down on thousands of illegal diamond miners.
Helicopters have been used on occasions to gun down miners, many of whom were professional people ranging from teachers to nurses, and students dropping out of school to dig up diamonds.
Legal and opposition political sources in Mutate say the prime mover behind the military crackdown was the Air force chief, Perence Shiri.
Shiri is the former commander of the notorious Firth Brigade which massacred about 20 000 people in the predominate Ndebele tribe in
Matabeleland in the early 1980s.
State run press reports that several police officers have also been killed in the bloody shoot-outs as miners resorted to arm themselves for self defence.
However, foreign news media are barred en masse from the diamond mines
so that they cannot report on the activities there.