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Business

Billions worth of Zim diamond is lost every month to smugglers

Zimbabwe loses close to US$1,2 billion every month to more than 500 diamond smuggling syndicates operating in Chiadzwa and Marange, the online mining weekly reported on Friday.

 

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, revealed this at a law enforcement symposium in Harare, indicating that the losses are enough to bail the country's collapsing economy within a decade.

 

"A reliable estimate shows that US$1,2-billion per month would be realised from diamond sales in the country, enough to solve the economic challenges the country is currently facing. We have investors who are able to mine and [generate] US$1,2-billion every month while we only need US$100-million a month for all our difficulties to go [away]," he said.

 

Gono revealed that members of the main syndicates operating in Manicaland are dealers and smugglers from Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Mali, Congo, Senegal, Angola, Zambia and the Central African Republic.

 

However, a senior police officer from Manicaland told Mining Weekly that the diamond smuggling syndicates can not be uprooted because they have political and security establishment connections.

 

"Like all illegal activities that involve huge amounts of money, this problem of illegal panning and smuggling will simply not go away. Many a time we have arrested people with big stashes of diamonds and even cash in US dollars, only to get a phone call from some high-ranking government or party official to say we should release the suspects and give them back 'their' loot.

 

"All the security services are here - police, police intelligence, the Central Intelligence Organisation, the army and its Military Intelligence. But the area is still swarming with foreign dealers who openly hire entire communities to do illegal panning on their behalf. These are the untouchables.

 

"It defeats logic - you try to arrest one of these people and the next officer on duty releases them [after charging them with] loitering, which attracts a meagre fine of Z$20. That is why everyone now takes a bribe.

 

"The RBZ may want to see this ended quickly, but they would have to arrest top government and security establishment officers, who are bleeding this country to death," says the officer.

 
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