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‘Diamond looters cost Zim billions’

by reporter263

President Robert Mugabe has for the first time admitted that there was widespread looting and smuggling at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, forcing him to take action.

The government last month elbowed out companies operating in the area, instructing them to remove their machinery within the next three months.

”We have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don’t think we have exceeded $2-billion, yet we think more than $15-billion has been earned,” Mugabe said on state television late last week.

But Tendai Biti, who headed the finance ministry between 2008 and 2013 during the national unity government formed by Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change, said he had briefed Mugabe about the goings on at Chiadzwa but no action was taken.

”I gave him the figures, the statistics and secret reports produced in Brussels. They showed we were producing more than $2-billion per year but we were getting nothing,” Biti said.

Zimbabwe’s international debt stands at $8-billion and the country’s budget on average is $3-billion a year. A 2012 report by Partnership Africa Canada, a campaign group, alleged that diamond revenue was being redirected to build a war chest for Zanu-PF ahead of the July 2013 general elections.

But analysts say the current battles within the ruling party are behind the revelations that diamond funds were misappropriated and some senior party members could have been directly involved in smuggling.

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