Precious stones of repression

12 September 2017 - 08:12 By AFP
Diamonds. File photo.
Diamonds. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Zimbabwe's ruling elite has diverted the country's vast diamond riches to help fund repression by dodging sanctions and raising money for security forces, an anti-corruption campaign group alleged on Monday.

In a report, Global Witness accused security and political leaders of secretly profiting from the trade in the country's diamond reserves while depriving the impoverished nation of much-needed revenue.

The Central Intelligence Organisation is alleged to have held a concealed stake in a company active in the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe, according to secret documents Global Witness said it had seen.

The group's report suggests diamonds produced by the CIO-linked company were traded in Antwerp and Dubai and may have funded political repression.

"Companies have concealed their finances and shielded their operations from public scrutiny, hiding significant stakes in these companies held by the feared Central Intelligence agency, the Zimbabwean military and the government itself," Global Witness said.

 A military-linked company subject to European sanctions, Zimbabwe Defence Industries, is alleged to have held a share in another major mining company through two holding firms.

That mining operation has freely traded diamonds in Europe, possibly breaching EU sanctions rules.