Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is under growing pressure one year after taking office following the removal of long-time leader Robert Mugabe. That pressure may be about to increase if his handling of the diamond industry doesn’t reflect his alleged commitment to economic reform and anti-corruption.
That’s the main message of a report released Thursday by campaign group and accountability watchdog, Global Witness. According to the organization, good governance of the country’s diamond sector is a barometer of the direction that Zimbabwe is taking more broadly in the post-Mugabe era.
“It will attest to the credence of President Mnangagwa’s claims of a zero tolerance approach to corruption and transformed economic governance,” Sophia Pickles, Campaign Leader at Global Witness, says.
The management of Zimbabwe’s valuable diamond industry will indicate whether the new government is serious about reform and willing to match rhetoric with action — Global Witness.
Most of the diamond fields are in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe, where production is dominated by the state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCD). It is expected to produce 3.5 million carats this year, up from 2.5 million in 2017.
In 2008, hundreds were killed and thousands had to leave their homes as Zimbabwe’s military forced artisan miners to leave Marange after the early stages of the diamond rush.
In early 2016, Mugabe’s government went further, evicting all diamond mining firms, including two Chinese joint venture companies from Marange. It said at the time their licenses had expired after they declined to merge under a newly created state-owned mining firm.
Mugabe’s administration was frequently accused by Human Rights Watch and other critics of giving the army and security forces access to mineral wealth following the operation.
“Secrecy across Zimbabwe’s diamond sector...