Biti should widen his diamond investigation


Finance Minister Tendai Biti has taken a bold decision to investigate the diamond revenue from Marange. Reports yet to be confirmed say that the country may have lost as much as $300 million from the sale of diamonds from Marange. This is revenue the country badly needs especially in view of the low salaries for civil servants and the shortage of fuel.

If Biti is serious about accounting for revenue from diamonds to beef up his coffers which we understand are virtually dry, then we believe that he must widen his investigation. The Insider has been investigating diamond smuggling since 2007 and there is enough evidence to kick off from which clearly indicates that a lot more revenue may have been lost through systematic diamond smuggling that seems to have had the blessing of the international community from a well –established mine, River Ranch.

If these investigations are done in earnest they could even rope in Murowa. The paper work is there and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe which is under Biti has enough documentary evidence to kick-start the investigation.

There has been too much focus on Marange to the exclusion of other mines, River Ranch and Murowa. Yes, Marange is potential the richest diamond deposit in the world, so everyone must pay attention to it. But Biti needs to dig deep into what was happening at River Ranch, and even Murowa, because there are a number of unanswered questions and things that do not add up

Some of the questions about River Ranch are:

  1. Why did a United Nations owned company provide assistance to the mine when it was owned by a billionaire (in United States dollars) and a senior ZANU-PF politician who was on the United States sanctions list?
  2. How did the mine pay for services of UN seconded personnel when it was barred from selling its diamonds?
  3. Why did a Dutch bank do business with the mine when it must have been aware that one of the directors was under European Union sanctions?
  4. What was the role of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in the whole issue because no money could be paid to a foreign bank without its knowledge or authority?

These questions could do for a start because they will inevitably lead to other questions. Besides, the United Nations Development Programme carried out a special six-month investigation in 2008 and has a report which it refuses to make public. Biti could perhaps get it and find all the answers he needs.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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