Partnership Africa Canada takes on the diamond trade

Zimbabwe’s Marange fields are among the world’s most lucrative diamond deposits.

But a Canadian watchdog group says Zimbabwe’s diamond trade has mainly been lucrative for a band of military generals and police loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

Partnership Africa Canada says as much as $2 billion in proceeds from diamond sales has gone missing since 2008 in “perhaps the biggest single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since [British colonialist and De Beers founder] Cecil Rhodes.”

Instead of flowing into the state treasury to pay for education, medicine and infrastructure, the group says the diamond money went to build mansions and pay for luxury cars for high-powered government supporters, into the pockets of foreign Mugabe sympathizers, and into a war chest for Mugabe’s re-election campaign, which could prove devastating to his opponent, PM Morgan Tsvangirai.

“The scale of illegality is mind-blowing,” the watchdog says, adding the activities have fed into “most of the diamond markets of the world.”

Mugabe spokesman Rugare Gumbo dismissed the allegations as “pure madness.”

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