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By JASON MOYO - Jun 11 2010
A senior former South African police officer tried to stop an international diamond monitor from continuing his investigation of Zimbabwe’s controversial diamond trade, according to a report obtained by the Mail & Guardian.
The report, by Abbey Chikane, a Kimberley Process monitor, is full of intrigue. It claims a former Tshwane police commissioner, Mpho Mmutle, called a meeting in April this year at which he tried to discourage Chikane from continuing to tour Zimbabwe on behalf of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which oversees the global diamond trade.
Chikane has been monitoring the movement of diamonds from Zimbabwe’s eastern Marange diamond fields.
“The [former] commissioner indicated that he had been approached by people who were concerned about [Chikane’s] next visit to Zimbabwe. These concerns related to the certification of Marange diamonds. When asked who these people were, Mr Mmutle indicated that he could not disclose their identity.”
Chikane said in the report that Mmutle had accepted the position of security chief at a company associated with these people and would resign from the South African police. Chikane claims Mmutle left the room and returned with Andrew Cranswick, chief executive of African Consolidated Resources (ACR), the company that has fought the Zimbabwe government for years over the Marange claims.
Cranswick warned Chikane against certifying “stolen goods”, a reference to diamonds from the Marange concessions seized by the government. Chikane says a “more formal meeting” was held on Wednesday last week where it was agreed ACR would detail its dispute with the Zimbabwe government. The Kimberley Process is investigating activists’ claims of people being killed by the army in clashes with 30 000 illegal panners who have invaded the diamond fields since 2006.
Chikane is also investigating the alleged involvement of top government and security officials in diamond smuggling. On arriving in Harare Chikane says he discovered that his suitcase had been opened and documents relating to the Kimberley Process removed, apparently for photocopying.
He then saw the contents of some of the documents quoted in reports in Zimbabwe state media accusing him of being an agent of Western interests, despite Chikane believing Zimbabwe has met the minimum conditions set by the Kimberley Process and could start exporting diamonds. He says the military must be withdrawn from the fields but this must be done gradually to prevent the return of illegal miners.
Chikane’s report will be discussed later this month at a meeting of the diamond industry in Israel. However , activists continue to campaign against the mining.
One critic, Farai Maguwu, head of local watchdog Centre for Research and Development, was arrested last week after giving Chikane information about smuggling.
More than 80 mostly foreign investors have applied for mining concessions, according to the government’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which says interest is so keen that it is having difficulty in processing applications.
Unable to sell its diamonds, Zimbabwe has stockpiled more than 4.5-million carats, potentially worth $1.7-billion, in the past four years.
South African companies Grandwell and Core Mining are already mining diamonds in joint ventures with the government, which has now handed fur ther concessions to a largely unknown Chinese company, Anjin Investments. It will form a third joint venture with the government.
Source: Mail & Guardian Online