Zimbabwe’s military is directly responsible for violence associated with the nation’s diamond fields, according to Zimbabwe’s Deputy Mines Minister. Minister Gift Chimanikire admitted that Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) owns 40% of the Anjin mining company, confirming the military’s continued participation in the Zim diamond industry, despite pressure from the industry watchdog for international diamond trading to demilitarize its diamond fields. On paper the ZDI is a private company, but the Ministry of Defence holds all of the company’s shares.
Minister Gift Chimanikire’s announcement coincided with new reports of ongoing violence, including “shootings, beatings and the use of dogs by soldiers, police and private guards” targeting diamond panners. One panner who was shot in the face by soldiers reported that they demanded he share his findings, giving the soldiers one or two diamonds for every five he found.
In 2008 the military undertook a “clean up” campaign in the mining fields that left at least 200 miners dead and raised concerns among human rights groups. The 2008 violence led the industry watchdog for international diamond trading, the Kimberley Process (KP), to order reform of the Zimbabwean mines, including the demilitarization of its diamond fields.
Although KP cleared Zimbabwean diamonds for international sale last year, Minister Chimanikire’s testimony before Parliament shows that the required demilitarization never took place.
Alan Martin of the human rights group Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) noted that “we have warned repeatedly that the Anjin firm is a military to military arrangement.” The KP, he added, “has lost the political appetite to deal with Zimbabwe head on.”
Source: Alex Bell, “Zimbabwe: Minister Confirms Army Ownership of Diamond Mine,” allAfrica, June 18, 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201206190039.html
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