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More diamond fields discovered in Zimbabwe

 SW Radio Africa 18 October 2019

There has been a mixed reaction to news that three more large deposits of diamonds have been discovered, with widespread scepticism that the find will benefit Zimbabweans. (441 Words) - By Alex Bell


Early studies by the Mines Ministry indicate that there are at least three significant diamond deposits, separate from the rich alluvial fields discovered at Chiadzwa near the eastern border town of Mutare, where rights abuses at the hands of the military have been rampant. The new discoveries are said to be located in  the rural areas of Binga, Tsholotsho and in parts of Masvingo province along the road to South Africa. Mines Minister Obert Mpofu told the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper that the government is setting up a body called the Zimbabwe Minerals Exploration Corporation, to hasten the pace of exploration in order to determine the extent of the deposits. Candidates are now being considered to head the proposed entity.

The  value of the new discoveries is widely expected to be high, given the extent of diamonds already being mined at Chiadzwa. But concern is now being raised that the involvement of the government from the very beginning could spell out more abuses. Some commentators have already voiced their concerns saying that the discovery of new diamond deposits is not likely to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

The government's take over of the Chiadzwa fields was marred by the death of hundreds of illegal panners, and the brutal military control of the field has continued ever since. The government made assurances that all abuses would end, and eventually came to an agreement with the international trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process, that saw diamonds sales from Chiadzwa resume.

But reliable sources, who have recently visited the Chiadzwa area, have told SW Radio Africa that absolutely nothing has changed. The source said that "rampant and systematic abuses are still occurring," with multiple cases of violence at the hands of the military. The military is also said to be behind widespread smuggling syndicates that are responsible for millions of dollars worth of diamond leaving the country illegally. The source said: "This is just scratching the surface of what is still happening there."

Dewa Mavhinga from the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that lack of political will is essentially the only thing preventing the proper management of the country's rich mineral resources. "The problem is not that the rules are not there, the problem is there is no implementation of the rules," Mavhinga said. "Until we see this, then Zimbabweans won't benefit from the mineral wealth of the country."



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