Thursday, November 15, 2012

Over 2 billion dollars in diamonds stolen from Zimbabwe

Yesterday we had a post on how the oil riches from Nigeria were stolen from the people. Today, we see how riches of another kind are stolen in Zimbabwe.

A few people loyal to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe have benefited greatly from the Marange diamond fields. A new study says that at least 2 billion dollars have been taken by Mugabe and his supporters, and that is a very conservative estimate. All of that money should be going into Zimbabwe's national treasury, but instead it has been stolen away. As long as this continues, the nation will be rife with poverty. No amount of aid will be able to cure this.

From the Guardian, writer David Smith unpacks the report for us.  
The Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe were discovered in 2006 and are one of the world's biggest diamond deposits. But funds from diamond sales have not reached the state treasury, says a PAC report, published on Monday to coincide with a Zimbabwe government conference on the diamond trade in Victoria Falls. Instead there is evidence that millions have gone to Mugabe's inner circle.
"Marange's potential has been overshadowed by violence, smuggling, corruption and most of all, lost opportunity," says PAC.
"The scale of illegality is mind-blowing" and has spread to "compromise most of the diamond markets of the world."
The report, Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe's Marange Diamond Fields, describes the $2bn lost to the Zimbabwean treasury since 2008 as a "conservative estimate".
Tendai Biti, the finance minister, said in his latest budget he had been promised $600m in diamond revenue for the national treasury to help rebuild neglected hospitals, schools and other public services. Only a quarter of that pledge has been received, he claims.
The PAC names Obert Mpofu, mines minister since 2009 and a key Mugabe ally, as perhaps the biggest winner. He has amassed an unexplained personal fortune and is linked to a "small and tight group of political and military elites who have been in charge of Marange from the very beginning" and who are personally benefiting from the diamond sales, the report alleges.
Mpofu spent more than $20m‚ "mostly in cash"‚ over the past three years, the report says, and owns vast swaths of land. "While Mpofu is not the only Zanu official benefiting from Marange's riches, his role as the chief guardian of Marange raises the most concern," the report says.

No comments: