Zimbabwe's ZANU-PF political and military elite continue to capture the country's diamond wealth through shadowy joint-venture companies. Given the violent reputation of the military and secret police, Global Witness believes that there is a very real risk that funds linked to these activities could be used to finance human rights abuses.
Research by Global Witness suggests that links between diamond companies in the controversial Marange diamond fields and military, police and intelligence organisations loyal to President Mugabe may be continuing to fund repression. These groups were implicated in widespread and systematic violence during the 2008 elections, during which at least 200 people were killed whilst thousands were tortured and beaten. Human rights abuses in Marange have continued since the army’s seizure of the diamond fields in 2008.
Hidden company ownership
Global Witness’ investigations reveal how opaque company structures can hide who benefits from diamond revenues and provide cover for the military and secret police.
State-owned diamond mining entity ZMDC is the nominal joint venture partner in Marange’s main diamond companies. However our findings indicate that the true beneficiaries of some Marange concessions, are often obscured but include members of the security forces and individuals linked to the ZANU-PF leadership.
Our research showed that one company, Mbada Diamonds has a complex ownership structure with parent companies in the British Virgin Islands and Mauritius. It’s possibly jointly owned by Air Vice-Marshall Robert Mhlanga, a close confidante of President Mugabe. We revealed that another major joint venture, Anjin Investments was partly owned by the Zimbabwean military, an allegation later confirmed by the Zimbabwean government.
Our research has also revealed that Hong Kong-based businessman Sam Pa has directly financed the secret police, allegedly in return for diamonds and other business opportunities.
Conflict diamonds still for sale
Despite the risk that Marange diamonds may be funding repression, consumers have little guarantee that their diamonds have not been sourced from there. The Kimberley Process, which was established to eradicate the trade in conflict diamonds, has given a green light to exports from Marange. Removal of EU sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation in September 2013 facilitated increased circulation of Marange diamonds and although US sanctions continue to restrict the trade in diamonds from Marange, polished stones still find their way into American markets via complex global supply chains.
- Companies globally should implement risk-based due diligence to ensure they are not buying diamonds which are potentially funding human rights abuses.
- The US should maintain sanctions against ZMDC until the Zimbabwean diamond sector is reformed.
- Zimbabwe should ban serving or retired security personnel from owning or controlling positions in mining companies.
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