Grace Mugabe linked to Chinese mafia

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe has been linked to the Chinese mafia, in startling revelations that are said to have caused some diplomatic discomfort between Harare and Beijing and were the main reason for last month’s purge on companies mining the controversial Marange diamond fields.

London-based think-tank Africa Confidential said President Robert Mugabe was told by the Chinese government that his wife Grace – who is reportedly pursuing her own mining interests in the controversial diamond fields – was dealing with dubious traders from Hong Kong where she has property investments.

“Senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, were concerned enough about this relationship to inform President Mugabe personally that these Hong Kong traders had links to Triad criminal syndicates, which have already established a strong base in South Africa,” said the think-tank.

The Triad is a Chinese organised crime organisation involved in extortion, money laundering, human trafficking and prostitution.

Mugabe, who is said to be furious at the diplomatic embarrassment caused by these revelations and security breaches, has ordered an investigation of all the entities operating in Marange.

“The first victims of the presidential order were the directors of Canadile Miners, one of the two officially sanctioned companies exploiting the Marange field,” the group said.

Canadile directors and officials from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) were arrested in Mutare last month in the course of what was billed as a government crackdown on illicit mining and smuggling.

Canadile is a joint venture of the South African firm Core Mining and Minerals and the state-owned ZMDC.

The Zimbabwe government cancelled Canadile’s diamond claims in November and announced it was taking control of the joint mining venture following allegations that the firm’s fraudulently acquired mining concessions in Marange.

Chiadzwa is one of the world’s most controversial diamond fields with reports that soldiers sent to guard the claims after the government took over the field in October 2006 from ACR committed gross human rights abuses against illegal miners who had descended on the field. – Zimbabwean