Report | June 14, 2010

Return of the Blood Diamond

Return of the Blood Diamond reveals how Zimbabwe's Zanu PF political and military elite are seeking to capture the country's diamond wealth through a combination of state-sponsored violence and the introduction of opaque joint-venture companies. The report criticises the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, set up to end the trade in conflict diamonds, for failing to react effectively to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Over a three year period the national army has visited appalling abuses on civilians in Marange's diamond fields yet nobody has been held to account for these crimes. What is more, the joint venture companies nominally brought in to improve conditions are directly linked to the Zanu PF and military elite.

The Global Witness report describes how the Minister of Mines, Obert Mpofu, has been at the forefront of efforts to block oversight of the joint venture companies, Canadile Miners and Mbada Diamonds. He has imposed his allies as board members, and sidelined the state mining company, ZMDC. Mbada Diamonds is chaired by Robert Mhlanga, a former Air Vice Marshal, and erstwhile star witness at opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's trial for treason.

Investment in diamonds lack transparency and are done with scant regard for legal process,  against a background of violence and intimidation. This leaves the door wide open for state looting and corruption, and risks diamonds financing renewed political violence in Zimbabwe. Instead of suspending Zimbabwe for flagrant breaches of its code, members of the Kimberley Process have settled on a weak compromise agreement, which the Zimbabwean authorities have repeatedly flouted. Global Witness is calling on international governments to suspend Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process until it can prove its diamonds aren't bankrolling violence and abuse.