By Charles Rukuni.
According to recent reports, Zimbabwe’s Vice President Joyce Mujuru threatened a senior executive of a British company with unspecified action after the company refused to handle $15 million worth of “blood diamonds” that her daughter wanted to sell.
The executive, Bernd Hagemann, head of Firstar Europe, a commodities trading company based in Warrington in the United Kingdom, said Mujuru phoned him after the company had blacklisted her, her husband Solomon Mujuru who is Zimbabwe’s former army commander, her daughter Nyasha, Nyasha’s husband Pedro Del Campo and their South African agent Dancor Spies.
The Mujurus are on both the United States and the European Union sanctions lists.
Nyasha had tried to sell the company diamonds without a Kimberley Process certificate and said if they accepted, she could give the company generous discounts. The diamonds were allegedly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.
Nyasha currently lives in Spain, her husband’s home country, but her husband does most of the business in Africa
She had tried to sell the same company 3,700 kg of gold which she said was from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When the company told her that it could not handle “blood” gold, she said she could have the origin changed to another country such as Kenya.
Though he could not remember the exact date Hagemann said Mrs Mujuru had phoned him in late December last year demanding that his company should remove her name and that of her daughter from their blacklist otherwise she would send people to visit his company and “see what happens”.
“It was not a long call,” Hagemann said. “She didn’t say she would kill me or something like that. But her tone did not sound good at all.”
Nyasha had offered the company 13 two-carat diamonds valued at $381,437.80. The package also included five three-carat diamonds valued at $626,710.40, thirteen four-carat diamonds valued at $3,904,356.20 and twenty five-carat diamonds valued at $10,961,842.20.
Hagemann said the negotiations were done by Felix Eimer who had to use a pseudonym for “security reasons” because when Nyasha contacted the company they knew very little about Zimbabwe. They had only been offered one manifest because they did not deal in diamonds without a Kimberley certificate.
“My understanding was that Nyasha was doing the business but her mother was the financier,” Hagemann said.
Hagemann said the company was now talking about the deal openly because they now had adequate police protection in all the countries where they operated.
Firstar International Group was founded 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia, by Former Governor of Florida, Wayne Mixson, E.Lamar Bailey and Mr.Muhsin Al-Hashimi. Firstar Europe Ltd. was founded in Warrington, United Kingdom, for trading in raw materials. It has offices in Europe, Ecuador, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Dubai.
Mrs. Mujuru has reportedly been heavily involved in diamonds and had a claim at Marange’s Chiadzwa which was popularly known as “churu chamai Mujuru” (Mrs Mujuru’s antihill).
Her husband is understood to have had a small stake in the concession when it belonged to Africa Consolidated Resources, though the company which is listed on London’s Alternative Market Index denies this.
Mujuru also has a stake in River Ranch Diamond Mine near Beitbridge. The mine received assistance from a United Nations-owned company, Africa Management Services Company (AMSCO), between 2004 and 2007 and there were allegations that United Nations Development Programme vehicles might have been used to smuggle diamonds from the mine to South Africa.
A special UNDP investigation, former South African head of the crack Scorpions police unit, Frank Dutton, was hired by the UNDP to investigate the allegations from July to December last year.
His report has not yet been released.
This story was originally published by thehuffingtonpost on 25 May 2011. We republish in the interest of our readers following recent developments in Zimbabwe.