Saturday, October 31, 2009

Todays pics from Hero's acre...just look at the little

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe arrives for the burial of a prominent member of his party, Misheck Chando, in Harare, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Mugabe says he is committed to working with his estranged prime minister despite his assessment that the former opposition leader is "not mentally stable" for boycotting the coalition government.

An armed soldier stands guard as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses mourners at the burial of national hero Misheck Chando at the National Heroes acre in the capital Harare, October 31, 2009. Mugabe said on Saturday he was working to resolve a political dispute threatening his power-sharing government with rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party.

An armed soldier stands guard as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe addresses mourners at the burial of national hero Misheck Chando at the National Heroes acre in the capital Harare, October 31, 2009. Mugabe said on Saturday he was working to resolve a political dispute threatening his power-sharing government with rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party.

 Zimbabwe's Prime Minister and opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai (L) welcomes head of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation Oldemiro Baloi (C) and SADC's Executive Secretary Tomaz Salamao at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare October 30, 2009. Southern African countries are expected to hold an extraordinary summit on the political crisis in Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said on Friday, in a bid to keep the unity government from crumbling.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (R) listens as Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara speaks to him at the burial of national hero Misheck Chando at the National Heroes Acre in Harare October 31, 2009. Mugabe said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's opposition party has "one leg in, and one leg out" of the government but he is pleased that coalition partners are talking about their differences.

President Robert Mugabe delivers his speech at the burial of a prominent member of his party Misheck Chando in Harare, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Mugabe took a swipe at the Zimbabwean Prime Minster, Morgan Tsvangirai, for disengaging from government, accusing him of being dishonest and never to be trusted.

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 31: 2009 World number one womens doubles team Liezel Huber of the USA and Cara Black of Zimbabwe hold their trophies and pose for a photograph during the Sony Ericsson Championships at the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex on October 31, 2009 in Doha, Qatar.


“Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds” – transcript.

Diamond miners in the Marange fields scrape through dirt trying to find stones.

For most people, diamonds symbolize love, happiness and wealth, but in countries like Zimbabwe, they’ve brought terror and misery. So jewellery stores like this one in Cresta want to feel confident that the diamonds they sell are approved by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. This is the international watchdog to put a stop to the deadly trade in conflict diamonds. Next week in Namibia, they will decide on what action to take against Zimbabwe. This report investigates the country’s blood diamonds. [This Special Assignment programme “Zimbabwe’s Blood Diamonds” was broadcast on Tuesday 27 October at 8.30 pm on SABC 3 (South Africa)]

In the mountains of Eastern Zimbabwe lies a vast alluvial deposit of diamonds, one of the richest in the world. The gems lie near the surface of the ground, so they can be collected by hand. Nearly half of the diamonds found here are industrials – a low-grade stone used for drilling and grinding. But, perhaps as many as 40 %, are the highly prized gemstones.

A miner holds up a diamond he's attempting to sell behind the backs of the military and police.

Industrials are the ones we find most often, but the clear ones are higher quality. They are the ones that bring big money.

These diamonds could earn Zimbabwe as much as 200 million US dollars a month, enough to fund the country’s reconstruction. Instead, they’ve brought nothing but greed and misery.


This is Mutare, in Manicaland, Zimbabwe. Three years ago news began to circulate that diamonds could be found in the mountains of Marange, some 100 km south of the city.


This could be, could make Zimbabwe one of the top one or two or three diamond producers in the whole world. It is a finite deposit by all appearances and will be mined out in maybe 5 -15 years. In which case it is all finished, and so, if we squander the opportunity to benefit Zimbabwe and its people, then that’s it. We have only got one shot at this.

African Consolidated Resources had staked the claim to mine diamonds in this area. In 2006 the government seized the land and threw them off.

It opened the fields for a free for all and resulted in the biggest diamond rush of recent years. Tens of thousands of desperate and impoverished Zimbabweans flocked to the area, hoping for a share in its riches.

A miner in Zimbabwe tunnels into the ground

In 2005 when the govt embarked on Operation Murambatsvina, destroying people’s homes, people’s sources of livelihoods, and driving more than 700,000 families out of their homes and breadwinners losing their source of livelihoods. So by 2005, when this diamond rush began, unemployment level in Zimbabwe was estimated at around 85%.

President Robert Mugabe’s government also recognised the potential of this new resource, seeing the diamonds as a key to maintaining power. First the police, and then the army, were ordered to clamp down on illegal miners.


I think the whole situation is extremely fragile. I think that the diamonds have the potential to do a lot more damage than they have yet done, because they are worth a lot of money, they are very divisive and if this going to be a free for all, and with diamonds at the centre, then they have a huge potential for disruption.
In October last year, the launch of Operation Hakudzokwe, which means, “You’ll never return,” was announced on state television.


“ We must clean Mutare of this menace first and foremost.”
Few watching anticipated the brutality that was to unfold.

The ever-present Zimbabwean military guard the outskirts of a rally in support of President Robert Mugabe

We heard “the soldiers are coming.” “Soldiers have arrived.” They surrounded the people. Then the helicopters came. They started firing. In front of me were so many people. 6 people were killed.

The helicopters were throwing teargas. The policemen were shooting people. So we were running, and that’s when they caught us.

Bullets came from the sky. He was shot here. He fell and rolled. His tongue came out and his eyes came out.

“Barely some minutes after the helicopters in Operation Restore Order illegal panners could be seen fleeing.
Tear gas was used to flush out the panners, who were then sprayed with bullets from the air. On the ground, soldiers pursued, firing with assault rifles.

This was hybrid unit which involved the notorious Kwekwe based 5th Brigade, which committed the known Gukurahundi atrocities of the 1980s

In the area, were commanders Air Marshall Perence Shiri and army General Constantine Chiwenga. Under Perence Shiri, 20 000 people were killed by the 5th Brigade in the Matabeleland genocide.

We saw soldiers. They thought everyone running away had diamonds.
They would shoot you. This boy was surrounded by soldiers and tried to escape. He was shot here.

Some had their hands and feet tied together. They were tied to a tree.
They would set dogs to bite them.

Two girls were stabbed trying to runaway. Two were stabbed and they died on the spot.
Those who were caught were taken to army bases and tortured. The soldiers beat people for days, and women were gang-raped.

They took off our trousers, leaving us with shorts and no shirt. Some took razor wire to use for beating.

They stamped on us with their boots. They hit us with the back of their guns. I had a miscarriage because of the beating.

They beat us underneath our feet. We couldn’t move because of the wounds. We had to crawl on our hands.

I thought they wanted to beat me but they said, “Today you will be our wife.” I realised I was going to be raped.

They exchanged. We slept with one and then a second. I thought it would
avoid getting beaten. But it changed nothing. After sleeping with those soldiers we went back and another new group came.

People were mauled by police dogs.

I had both my arms stretched out, being bitten. One man would say, “Catch hands” and then the other one said, “Catch hands.” When the dog tore me, he pulled the chain and then again, “Catch hands.”
Many of the injured avoided hospitals, frightened that they could be arrested again. But, of those that did seek treatment, these hospital records show the true extent of the horror. People had dog bites all over their body, others were shot in the back as they fled, people were assaulted or cut down with buckshot.
No one knows the true extent of the massacre at Chiadzwa.

The government gave an order to kill people. We estimate that more than 400 people were murdered by the State in Chiadzwa. These people could have been arrested and charged and found guilty, they could have been sentenced, but rather the government chose to kill those people.

Countless others died of their injuries at home.

It was very difficult to go to hospital because if you dared, the soldiers would follow and capture you. So many people died at home.

People ended up dying. Some were torn apart by dogs, which ripped apart their flesh. That is what we saw in Chiadzwa.

It was stinking in the mortuary. It was full of panners who were rotting.
In this cemetery on the outskirts of Mutare is a mass grave where 70 bodies from Chiadzwa were buried. The government of Zimbabwe denies that any human rights abuses occurred.

Really without evidence, it is difficult to confirm something that cannot be supported by any facts. If there is one person, or any people, with that kind of evidence, why don’t they bring it forward so that it can be investigated? We have nothing to hide.

The international watchdog on “conflict diamonds” – called the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme – visited Zimbabwe and found gross irregularities. They recommended that Zimbabwe be suspended until they comply with minimum standards.

To get that team to go Zimbabwe was like getting blood from a stone, and the debate about what should be in the report, what the findings should say, what should be done the recommendations should be, whether Zimbabwe should be suspended or expelled, or given gifts of technical assistance, the debates have gone on and on. It has been messy and it has been slow.

Ian Smillie was one of the founding members of the Kimberley Process. Earlier this year, he resigned because he’d lost faith in the body’s ability to act on human rights.

I think that the industry as a whole and the countries that depend on diamonds for their economic future, for their economic development, suffer when the KP pretends to be effective and is actually ineffective.
This is the Machipanda border post between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Smuggling here is rife and diamonds are brought across by the bucket load. It’s estimated that Zimbabwe is losing nearly 50 million US dollars a week to illegal trade in gold and diamonds.

We have traced the smuggling even up to Mozambique where soldiers, and the panners, ordinary people, are crossing the border to sell these diamonds. There is no control of the diamond trade from Chiadzwa.
Vila de Manica is only 18 km from the border. Travelling into the town, evidence of diamond money is all too apparent. This suburb of new houses has sprung up in the last two years to house the dealers. It’s built on the proceeds of Chiadzwa’s diamonds.

It appears that these diamonds end up everywhere and, remember once a diamond is polished, you cannot tell where it comes from and so, unfortunately, we are losing a national asset out the back door
When the Zimbabwean government clamped down on illegal buyers, they simply set up shop here. Dealers’ houses are easy to find. They have armed guards and tight security. Outside on the street are groups of Zimbabwean youths employed to tout for business.

Armed with a hidden camera, we went to find out how it all works. Outside the house are two men armed with AK47s and, as we arrive, two women leave pocketing their cash.

This diamond dealer is connected to a businessman in Zimbabwe

Depending on your stone. There’s 3 categories of stone. Your industrial, middle and gem. Industrials are about US $ 10.00 – US $ 12.00 per gram. You’re selling per gram. Your gem depends on the buyer, on what your buyer’s offering.

His business is thriving.

There’ s always going to be, there has always been, people dealing in Chiadzwa. There will always be. Even with the mines there, it’s not going to stop. It will never stop.

Many of the dealers here are seasoned smugglers. They’ve trailed blood diamonds around the world.

You are talking like you have experience. How long have you been in the business?
Thirty-five years.
Where did you start?
In Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone, West Africa. So when did you move to Mozambique then?
4 – 5 months ago, just to see.

How do you compare Zimbabwe diamonds to Sierra Leone diamonds?

Completely different. The best in the whole world are Sierra Leone diamonds.
They may not be the best in the world, but the diamonds we were shown by a dealer are still worth a lot of money. This one is valued at 25 000 US dollars. The smaller one is more cloudy but could still could fetch 4000 US dollars.

At the moment, the illegal smugglers, the middlemen, the foreigners, the overseas people, the foreigners from every nation, and every nation that has to anything do with diamonds has a finger in this pie.

This is the mosque after Friday prayers. Here it’s possible to get an idea of the extent of the illegal diamond trade in Vila de Manica. The dealers come mainly from Lebanon and West Africa, including the DRC, Angola, Guinea and Sierra Leone. These countries have such weak internal controls, that as many as half of the diamonds they export can’t be accounted for.

Dealers leave in cars with Zimbabwean number plates. It’s an open door for laundering blood diamonds.

All these countries where control are quite weak, particularly in the Congo and Angola where controls are abysmally weak, and the KP hasn’t done anything about it, and the KP hasn’t done anything about it. All this needs to be tightened up.

Yet, despite the Zimbabwean government’s heavy-handed attempts to secure the diamond fields, illegal trade continues flourish. Diamond deals are happening everywhere. Lebanese and West Africans have set up at the local swimming pool.

This woman has just arrived from Zimbabwe and is pointed in the right direction to sell her stones. Soon afterwards we see her going in to the dealers.

Round the corner another deal is underway.

We have declared that place a Protected Area and we have investors in the area right now who have come up with security that is unprecedented, security that will ensure that nothing gets out of Chiadzwa.

A number of people we spoke to admitted that they got their diamonds from politicians, CIO officials and army syndicates. Money is seeping away into the bank accounts of smugglers and syndicates.

This is the road to Chiadzwa. Despite the risk to their lives, hundreds of illegal miners still head to the diamond fields. They can continue panning as long as they are involved with the military. The diamond fields are supposed to be secured and guarded by soldiers, but the fence is full of holes so people sneak through.

Nearly every soldier that is in Chiadzwa at the moment is involved in panning in one-way or the other. They have also formed syndicates with those panners, civilian panners, so that those panners will get the escort of the military and they continue panning with the protection of the soldiers

Close to the diamond fields, panners are sorting through the stones they have collected. The soldiers guarding the fields allow them access at night, but at a cost. A buyer is interested in this stone, but whatever is paid, little will go to the panner.

We classify it as forced labour because after they pan and they find that there are some diamonds, the soldiers will take about ¾ of the proceeds and these young people will be forced to share ¼ and I don’t think that they are benefiting anything out of it significantly. It is the soldiers who are benefiting.

After the army riots in 2008, President Robert Mugabe has a vested interest in maintaining their loyalty through profits from illegal diamond sales.

Govt has been protecting that place for the passed 3-4 years and reduced the influx of panners which had invaded the area and so if one cannot appreciate that then he is actually advocating for a disaster.
With no moves to demilitarise the area, human rights abuses continue. This is the body of a panner. Only last month, he was beaten to death by soldiers.

I think that the human rights situation is probably the worst aspect of what is going on there, but there is smuggling, there is lack of control, there is no due process. In terms of the diamond leases and ownership and that kind of thing, the rule of law just doesn’t seem to exist. There are all kinds of reasons for the KP to take a serious view of this if it wants to protect the reputation of the industry that it was set up to protect.

These are the diamond fields of near Chiadzwa. 1n 2006, mining firm African Consolidated Resources, or ACR, was forcibly evicted from here. Last month they won a High Court ruling restoring their right to mine the area. But it’s been ignored, and foreign firms are muscling in.

This illegal mining operation is run by the Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation, and they’ve signed deals with other investors.

The rights that exist under which these foreign entities believe they are operating are joint ventures with the ZMDC, which has now been ruled to be illegally on our claims. So the joint ventures signed with the ZMDC really have no legal force and effect.

A South African security company that’s worked on the notorious diamond mines of Sierra Leone, DRC and Angola has taken over this resort near the Chiadzwa. They’re barring all entry.

The foreign private security agents that have been working on the fields right now have strictly prevented any of our people getting in and we have not even been able to see the apparent management of this apparent operations going on our claims, to evict them.

The Zimbabwe Mineral Development Corporation has signed a shady joint venture with a Mauritian offshore company, Grandwell Holdings. They’re operating here under the name Mbada Diamonds. Behind it all is a South African company, Reclamation, who’s understood to have spearheaded the deal.

Any diamonds they trade will be obtained illegally. Reclamation director, David Kassell refused to comment.

They are operating there and are preventing our access, and defying and ignoring and in contempt of a High Court ruling, and these are foreign entities who are in contempt of a High Court ruling, in Zimbabwe, a sovereign state, and these are South African entities, or at least South African sponsored and masterminded entities, and I think it quite serious.

They’re understood to be turning this hanger at Harare airport into a diamond- polishing centre. It’ll mean they bypass the Kimberley Process, which is only concerned with rough diamonds.

Minutes of a meeting between Mbada and their partners reveal the building will be converted to secure against mortar attack. Their diamonds can be sold regardless of international control.

The foreign partners will rape it for the foreign interests as opposed to the national interests and that is the tragedy and that has to be stopped.

Zimbabwe has exposed weaknesses in the Kimberley Process. What they decide in Namibia next week will test their commitment to rid the world of conflict diamonds. Amidst growing evidence of corruption, the Zimbabwean government seems unconcerned.

We are not going to stop because they have not supported us. If you go to Chiadzwa now, you will see a totally different Chiadzwa from the one that was there a few weeks ago. We are on the ground, we will surprise a lot of people. We are not going to stop anything that I can assure you.

Diamond miners are being used by the military and police to extract stones despite threats from the Kimberley Process of sanctions against Zimbabwe for the practice

Miner Tendaimoyo shows the scars he claims were inflicted by soldiers during a punishment beating


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