Zim opposition demands probe into 'looted' diamonds worth $15bn

Harare - Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has called for a thorough investigation into the disappearance of diamonds worth at least $15bn.

MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu said in a statement that the disappearance of the diamonds in the country's Marange district in Mutare, was "very astounding and startling".

According to New Zimbabwe.com, the 2006 revelation of the existence of huge diamonds in Marange had given Zimbabwe hope which continues to reel under economic hardships.

Ten years later, the diamonds were reportedly exhausted and government was failing to pay its employees, the report said.  

Gutu faulted the government, claiming that the disappearance of the diamonds came after its failure to follow due processes in awarding the mining licence.

"It is more than apparent that right from the outset, the manner in which mining licences were awarded to the various mining companies at Marange/Chiadzwa lacked transparency and accountability. There was no public tender system that was instituted before the afore-mentioned diamond mining licences were awarded," said Gutu

Gutu said that, due to the secretive nature in the awarding of the licences, surrounding areas did not benefit from diamond mining.

He said most of the people who were moved in order to make way for the diamond mining activities, were still living in abject poverty.

Gutu further claimed that the provincial capital, Mutare, still looked like a ghost town in spite of the fact that billions of dollars worth of diamonds were extracted from Chiadzwa over the past years.

During his annual birthday interview President Robert Mugabe claimed that at least $15bn had been lost to the national treasury ever since diamond mining operations began in the Marange/Chiadzwa areas about a decade ago.

Mugabe admitted that there was a widespread looting and smuggling at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, forcing him to take action. 

Government recently shut down companies operating in the area, instructing them to remove their machinery within the next three months.

"We have not received much from the diamond industry at all. I don't think we have exceeded $2bn, yet we think more than $15bn has been earned," Mugabe said on state television last week.

Following Mugabe's admission that diamonds had been looted, Gutu in a series of tweets called for Mugabe's impeachment, as he questioned his capability to continue leading the country.

Gutu said it was hard to believe that the nonagenarian had no idea about the looting of at the diamond mines.

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