WATCH: Armed soldiers, police 'clash with villagers in Zim's diamond fields' - HRW

2018-04-26 12:48


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Thousands of villages in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields were this week reportedly met by armed soldiers and police, who teargassed them as they protested the looting of the country's diamond revenue.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), police fired teargas canisters to disperse the demonstrators on Monday.

"The police argued that the protest had not been authorised under the repressive Public Order Security Act (POSA), which severely limits freedom of association, public debate and criticism of the government," HRW said in a statement.

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Former president Robert Mugabe's regime was accused of siphoning off diamond profits.

Mugabe himself in 2016, while providing no evidence, told the state broadcaster that diamonds worth more than $15 billion had been looted in Marange.  

No one had been held to account for the alleged looting.

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"After years of alleged diamond revenue looting by state-owned companies, with no benefits to the local communities, the villagers’ protest is an indication that patience is wearing thin," HRW said.

Mugabe, however, recently retracted his remarks over the alleged missing diamond revenue amid investigations by the national assembly.

The veteran politician told the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent that the "whole $15bn loot was an urban legend that had no factual basis".

He said the claim was just a figure that was given to him by some government official at the time.

"It was just a figure. I was given that by some officials, that figure had been circulating around, but really it was not confirmed; it was just a story and there was that figure involved," Mugabe was quoted as saying.

Mugabe, according to AFP, was now set to be summoned to testify before a parliamentary committee that was investigating the looting.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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