MARANGE – There is growing concern that illegal diamond mining in Marange is now rife owing to the involvement of state security agents.
By Farai Maphosa
Investigations by TSTnews reveal that despite the mining consortiums now operating under the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company have invested much in securing their concessions by introducing multiple security checkpoints,CCTVs(Closed Circuit Television), security dogs , drones and armed security personnel,illegal diamond mining is still being conducted.
In an interview conducted by this publication, an illegal diamond miner who requested anonymity said they operate as syndicates which include the army, police, and the mine workers.
“These days illegal diamond mining is no longer that spontaneous like in the previous years . You have to be included in a syndicate that includes the army, police and some of the mine staffers for you to mine.
“Despite that the cake is now smaller, the advantage is that you don’t risk being shot or arrested because the guys(security agents )will be on your side,” said the illegal miner with a chuckle.
While a number of arrests have been made so far from illegal diamond miners the number is insignificant compared to what is prevailing, according to the illegal miner.
“I have read in the newspapers that the mining companies are satisfied with the number of arrests made so far from illegal diamond miners but the reality is that all the arrests that are done are just sacrificial when ‘deals’ with security agents go sour,” added the illegal miner.
This was also confirmed by the Centre for Research and Development director James Mupfumi who said nothing has yet changed since the infamous Operation Hakudzokwi in 2008.
“Since the commencement of Operation Hakudzokwi in 2008 security forces deployed themselves strategically in and outside the diamond fields to extract diamonds.
“The army is still operating on rotational basis. The new dispensation has retained the status quo in Marange.Infact the military owned Anjin has actually been returned to Marange and awarded a new lucrative diamond concession,” said the CRD boss.
A villager in Marange who only identified himself as Mupotedzi is worried that ZCDC is now contemplating relocating villages around the mining concessions to minimize the illegal activities making them sacrificial lambs when security agents are at the core.
“What we are now worried is that we are hearing the company is mulling relocating us saying some of the villagers are involved when we know that some people outside Marange are travelling to conduct the illegal diamond mining with security agents manning the mines.
“Infact the military owned Anjin has actually been returned to Marange and awarded a new lucrative diamond concession,”said Mupfumi.