Global Witness has uncovered and published on September 11, new evidence linking Zimbabwe’s state and partisan security forces to a decade of disappearing diamond wealth.
Despite offering early promise and hope, diamonds have failed to benefit the Zimbabwean people. Instead, they have provided secret off-budget funding for state security forces consistently implicated in their oppression. As elections and a divisive presidential succession struggle loom, this has serious implications for Zimbabwe’s democratic future, and casts serious doubt on President Mugabe’s claim that private investors are solely to blame for billions of dollars of missing diamond revenues.
“We have not received much from the diamond industry at all (…) I don’t think we’ve exceeded US$2 billion or so, and yet we think that well over US$15 billion has been earned in that area. (…) There has been quite a lot of secrecy (…) and lots of swindling, smuggling (…). The companies that have been mining have virtually robbed us, I want to say, of our wealth (…). You cannot trust a private company in that area. None at all,” – President Robert Mugabe, interview with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation on the occasion of his 92nd birthday.
Mismanagement of the diamond sector has also had devastating consequences for Zimbabwe’s development. With nearly three quarters of the population living beneath the poverty line and an estimated four million people in need of food aid in 2017, the need for a complete overhaul of the industry has never been greater.
‘An Inside Job’ examines five of the major mining companies that have recently operated in the Marange diamond fields and so continue to hold a stake in its future: Kusena, Anjin, Jinan, Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC), and Mbada. It details the steps companies have taken, in some cases, to conceal their finances, shield their operations from public scrutiny, and hide their ultimate beneficiaries and owners.
Global Witness’s key findings include:
- Secret documents indicating that Zimbabwe’s feared spying agency, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), may hold a stake in a Marange diamond mining company, Kusena Diamonds. The company’s diamonds have been traded in Antwerp and Dubai, circulating freely on international markets, despite the risk they may have funded human rights violations. This risk is set to continue, with the company now reportedly folded into the new government-led Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
- Significant links between another Marange diamond company, Anjin, which was set up with a private Chinese investor, and Zimbabwe’s highly partisan and oppressive military. Evidence indicates Anjin’s diamonds were sold in Antwerp on at least three occasions, likely in violation of EU sanctions against the military company that holds a significant stake in Anjin.
- Mbada Diamonds held the largest concession in Marange, yet the identity of the owner of a 25 per cent stake in this lucrative asset has remained a closely guarded secret. Global Witness has found mounting evidence to suggest that Robert Mhlanga, a retired member of Zimbabwe’s security forces, ally of the ruling party, and alleged former Presidential pilot, stands behind the hidden share.
- Diamond Mining Corporation (DMC) was formed as joint venture by the Government of Zimbabwe with a private investor. This is despite evidence suggesting that the individuals behind the company were involved in extensive smuggling of Marange diamonds for several years before diamonds could be legally exported under the Kimberley Process.