Dear Family and Friends,
A few months ago a friend was approached by a vendor who had a large walnut -sized transparent stone. The vendor didn’t want to say where he’d got the stone from but claimed it was a diamond and he was trying to sell it. The stone had a sharp edge which made a deep scratch in a steel drill bit without damagaing the stone.Was it a diamond? Who knows but there are plenty of stories like this doing the rounds. People in Mutare tell of deals going down all the time, men in dark glasses, cars with tinted windows and little bundles changing hands. Some talk of clear stones, others are grey or cloudy but whatever the colour we are all wondering just who died while digging for these stones.
A chilling report has just been released by Human Rights Watch implicating Zimbabwe’s military in horrific abuses at the newly discovered diamond fields in Chiadzwa. Human Rights Watch collected evidence of violence, murder and forced child labour at the diamond deposits in Marange. The report talks of military helicopters gunning people down, of teargas being thrown into shafts and of people buried alive. It says that at least 214 people were killed during a three week military operation in October 2008 and of people buried in mass graves. Press reports quote Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch as saying: “The police and army have turned this peaceful area into a nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence.”
Human Rights Watch says that: “Zimbabwe’s new government should get the army out of the fields, put a stop to the abuse, and prosecute those responsible.”
It is incomprehensible that this is going on even now as Prime Minister Tsvangirai tries to persuade the west that we have changed and are deserving of their money.
The Human Rights Watch report could not be more damning, or more to the point when it notes:
“The government could generate significant amounts of revenue from the diamonds, perhaps as much as $200million US dollars per month, if Marange and other mining centres were managed in a transparent and accountable manner. This revenue could fund a significant portion of the new government’s economic recovery programme.”
There remains little doubt in anyone’s mind just exactly why Zanu PF refused to concede defeat in the 2008 elections: from farms and wildlife to gold and diamonds.
Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.
Copyright Cathy Buckle 27th June 2009.
This letter is published with kind permission of the author.