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24 carat pigeons
February 18, 2012, 8:11 am

 

Dear Family and Friends,

The chat around the table the other day was how many fat pigeons were shot with stones from the catapults of kids in the areas of Hot Springs and Nyanyadzi as the road heads south to Birchenough Bridge. It is the most amazing 125 kilometre stretch of road which starts eleven hundred metres above sea level in Mutare and drops to four hundred and fifty metres by the time it gets to Birchenough Bridge. In the space of half an hour you go from the lofty mountains and lush green of Mutare to the hot, dry scratchy lowveld and Baobab trees of Hot Springs which is two thirds of the way to Birchenough Bridge. It’s a road that used to be much travelled by families and school groups heading for the hot mineral springs and pools at the Hot Springs resort in the ‘good old days’ before the diamond discoveries of 2006.  All along the immediate west of this road are the diamond fields which could and should be Zimbabwe’s saving grace but aren’t.

“I know the money is being stolen but I don’t have any proof of how it is being stolen,” the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti  said this week about the money from diamond sales.  Biti was commenting on a report  just released by Global Witness on the ownership of two of the main diamond  mines which are right near that  Hot Springs road.  The report called “Diamonds: A good deal for Zimbabwe?”  makes for gripping and chilling reading.  Contained in the Global Witness report are the names of seven Chinese executive directors and board members and seven Zimbabwean board members of one of the diamond mining companies, Anjin. In the Zimbabwean list,  five of the board members are senior security personnel whose names are preceded with titles  like Air Vice Marshall, Brigadier,  retired Colonel, Commissioners in the police force and the permanent secretary in The Ministry of Defence.  The principal officer and company secretary of Anjin is a brigadier who is on the EU sanctions list. Global Witness urge the Zimbabwe government to cancel the Anjin agreement and say consumers should not buy diamonds from the Marange mines until they can be sure they are not funding human rights abuses.

The Global Witness report raises eyebrows over the decade long rallying call of ‘indigenization’ and ‘Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.’  Reading the list of Chinese directors and board members of a diamond mine near  Hot Springs, leaves  you wondering who really owns Zimbabwe and if the ordinary people of our country will ever see the benefits from the stones under our feet.  

Ironically, in the same week that Global Witness raise questions about the ownership of diamond mines and the ‘opaque’ company structures, the EU removed 51 people from their Restrictive Measures/ Sanctions List. The list includes many shocks, including the wives of a number of senior Zanu PF officials. It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to read between these lines and think about what happens next.

Back at the table with friends came the real question about birds and catapults which  is how many of those stones were actually diamonds and how many pigeons went to meet their maker on the back of 24 carats.

Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.



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