LOCAL arms manufacturer and trader Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) is allegedly selling diamonds worth US$50 million a month which are mainly benefiting members of the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which brings together army, police and intelligence service chiefs.
Report by Tendai Marima
According to a report titled Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond Fields compiled by Partnership Africa Canada (Pac)and which Zanu PF officials have rejected.
ZDI is involved in diamond sales through its two Harare-based companies Rusunuguko Nkululeko Holdings and Impetus Capital.
The report says: “They trade approximately US$50 million diamonds on an average month, according to sources. The main beneficiaries of these trades are members of the Joint Operations Command, the top echelons of Zimbabwe’s military establishment.”
The Pac report says high-quality gems are regularly sold in ZDI’s secret sales and exported from Harare to South Africa where they are allegedly trafficked from Johannesburg to Dubai, with the involvement and or knowledge of the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.
According to the report, the trafficking of diamond parcels to Johannesburg was disrupted earlier this year after a business associate of the late retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru tried to run a scam on ZDI-linked traders by switching parcels of stones.
“In March 2012, a foolhardy white Zimbabwean courier, aligned to the late General Mujuru reportedly shortchanged his military handlers by switching the high value gems for lesser stones once in Johannesburg.
Since the scam, foreign dealers have been made to fly to Zimbabwe on private jets and pay ZDI operatives directly,” the report says.
The report also says at least US$2 billion in revenues had been lost through corruption and a parallel-pricing of Zimbabwe’s gems in international markets in the past four years.
“Conservative estimates place the theft of Marange goods at almost US$2 billion since 2008,” the report says. It also notes there is a sophisticated parallel market in Surat, India, selling diamonds for a higher price.