MUTARE — Mafia-type syndicates have emerged in Zimbabwe’s gem fields as illegal diamond diggers siphon the precious mineral in Chiadzwa, the Financial Gazette can report.
Despite State security personnel having been deployed under Operation Chengetedzai Upfumi (in defence of our resources), looting is rife as government is currently locked in a legal fight with some of the former miners who are resisting their expulsion from Chiadzwa.
Mbada Diamonds won a High Court reprieve a fortnight ago to be allowed back to their mining concession
Anjin Investment, a joint venture between the Chinese and the army, also filed an urgent chamber application, arguing that its forced eviction from Chiadzwa was in breach of the agreement on Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between the Asian country and Zimbabwe.
The High Court application came soon after the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Huang Ping, urged government to honour the pact.
The legal battles between government and the miners have opened a window for opportunists who have descended on the diamond fields.
Investigations by the Financial Gazette revealed that syndicates are on the prowl in Chiadzwa, scrounging for the diamonds.
A new form of business has also emerged, whereby those with connections to security personnel guarding the fields are charging between US$50 to US$100 to people seeking “protected” access into the diamond fields.
“You pay your US$50 and they will allow you entry into the fields. Others might charge you as much as US$100, but if you have US$50 you can still negotiate. But as you know things are difficult and most people don’t have money so, you negotiate to either pay with diamond ore,” said an illegal miner who identified himself only as Tarzan.
Areas such as Chakohwa, Nyanyadzi and Hotsprings have since recorded a sharp increase in travellers, making their way to and from the fields.
While some of the unlucky panners have been arrested by the police, the majority of them are getting away with it.
Over 50 villagers were arrested last week alone. firstname.lastname@example.org
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