Zanu PF denies looting diamonds

ZANU PF spokesman, Rugare Gumbo has dismissed claims that members of the political elite and military leaders allegedly profited from illegal trading of diamonds, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks.

The November 2008 cable provides details of information gleaned by U.S. diplomats from industry and government officials who say that Mugabe’s allies profit from gem smuggling from the Chiadzwa diamond field.

“High-ranking Zimbabwean government officials and well- connected elites are generating millions of dollars in personal income by hiring teams of diggers,” an industry official reported to the U.S. Embassy in Harare, according to the cable from then Ambassador James D. McGee.

“They are selling the undocumented diamonds to a mix of foreign buyers who then smuggle the gems out of the country”.
Gumbo, however, denied the allegations.

“These are lies to discredit the party and the government,” Rugare Gumbo, said. “No officials or party members would stoop to looting.”

Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife, and the central bank governor, Gideon Gono, are among those who have benefited from the trade, the industry official said, according to the cable. Others identified as profiting include military officials.

But Gono also said there was no truth in the allegations.

“There is absolutely no truth in that,” Gono said yesterday in a telephone interview from Harare. “I do not know where such fabrications came from, if indeed the cable is genuine.”

Meanwhile, according the cables, each of the Zimbabwean beneficiaries makes several hundred thousand dollars a month, the official said, according to the cable. Many of the diamonds are smuggled to Dubai, according to the cable.

The Marange fields may contain 1,000 carats of gems per hundred tons of ore, the official said, according to McGee, citing a geologist’s report prepared for Johannesburg-based De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond company. That compares with 120 carats per hundred tons at London-based Rio Tinto Plc’s Murowa mine in Zimbabwe, the official says.