Military cut out Gono from Marange diamonds


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Central bank governor Gideon Gono was cut out of the Marange diamonds when the military moved in in November 2008, according to one of the United States embassy cables released by Wikileaks. One of Gono’s chief buyers Tendai Makurumidze, known as Gonyeti, was arrested and three of his vehicles were seized. Trading which had been dominated by Gono who was bringing freshly printed Zimbabwe dollar notes shifted to foreign currency.

 The full cable:

 

 

VZCZCXRO2958

OO RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0024/01 0090843

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 090843Z JAN 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3900

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0003

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2535

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2657

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1150

RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0234

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1926

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2281

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2706

RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA 0529

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5134

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0068

RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 5616

RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0021

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1813

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000024

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

DRL FOR N. WILETT

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR E. LOKEN AND L. DOBBINS

STATE PASS TO NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR B. PITTMAN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2019

TAGS: PGOV PREL ASEC PHUM ECON EMIN RS ZI

SUBJECT: MILITARY EXPANSION FUELS DIAMOND CHAOS XXXXXXXXXXXX

 

REF: A. IIR 6 926 0058 09

B. 08 HARARE 1016

C. 08 HARARE 1035

 

Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, poloff met with XXXXXXXXXXXX,

XXXXXXXXXXXX region that contains the

diamond-rich Marange fields, to discuss violence in the

region as well as recent developments in the turbulent

Marange diamond trade. XXXXXXXXXXXX described how the military

expansion in XXXXXXXXXXXX in late November has been displacing

the police and diverting the diamond flow from the Reserve

Bank of Zimbabwe to the Zimbabwean military. This has not

deterred the continued brisk diamond trade involving foreign

buyers, including most prominently the Lebanese. END SUMMARY.

 

————————————

Shootings Continue as Bodies Pile Up

————————————

 

2. (C) The tribal chief XXXXXXXXXXXX, met

with poloff in Harare XXXXXXXXXXXX and confirmed that

military and police shootings in Marange are continuing, as

security forces tighten their control over the diamond-rich

area. This was seconded by a report we received from a human

rights group in the region (REF A). According to the report,

during police and military Operation Hakudzokwi, (Shona for

“you won’t come back”) which was aimed at clearing individual

panners from the area, over 200 bodies turned up at Mutare

Provincial Hospital Mortuary, Old Mutare Mission Hospital,

Sakubva District Hospital, and private mortuaries. Many of

those bodies arrived with fatal gunshot or dog bite wounds

and were tagged “BID Marange” or “brought in dead from

Marange.”

 

3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX many of his people have been

killed, beaten, and arrested for dealing in diamonds. The

villagers had entrusted their diamond findings to XXXXXXXXXXXX

because he owned a safe and they thought his tribal status

would be respected; however, the police forced him to turn

over the village’s diamond stash to the security forces.

XXXXXXXXXXXX is now in hiding in Harare. He also told us

XXXXXXXXXXXX he had been harassed, arrested, and beaten beat out . XXXXXXXXXXXX END NOTE.)

 

—————————————-

Military Expansion Displacing the Police

—————————————-

 

4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX confirmed that the military has increased

its numbers in the region and now exceeds the police presence

by a large margin. He suspected the increase stemmed from

concern that the power-sharing negotiations between ZANU-PF

and the MDC might culminate in the awarding of the Home

 

HARARE 00000024 002 OF 003

 

 

Affairs ministry–which includes the police department–to

the MDC. This would result in a tremendous loss of wealth

and patronage that helps to maintain the Mugabe regime.

Therefore, he believed that the military, which would remain

under ZANU-PF control in the event of an agreement between

the two parties, was seeking to consolidate its authority.

 

5. (C) Digging by panners, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, is

continuing in Marange largely under the supervision of the

military. The typical practice is for soldiers to supervise

and escort groups of panners as they dig. Then at the end of

the day, any diamonds found are apportioned between soldiers

and diggers. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that military helicopters fly in

daily and transport many of the diamonds to bases near

Harare, where presumably they are taken by senior military

commanders.

 

————————————–

Gono May Have Been Cut Out of the Deal

————————————–

 

6. (C) Prior to the military expansion in late November, it

was well known by locals that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)

governor Gideon Gono had representatives in Mutare buying

diamonds with bundles of freshly-printed Zimbabwean notes

(Ref B). XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that the military has now barred

Gono’s operatives from the region and that diamonds are no

longer being sent to the RBZ. All diamond purchases are now

being conducted solely in foreign exchange. (NOTE: According

to an article in the state-controlled newspaper, the Herald,

Tendai Makurumidzi, a well-known Gono buyer who uses the

alias “Gonyeti” was arrested sometime in November and had

three of his vehicles seized. END NOTE.) XXXXXXXXXXXX explained

that it used to be common to see 4×4 vehicles leaving

XXXXXXXXXXXX, but now the roads have deteriorated to the point

that access is only possible by foot or helicopter.

Vehicular access to the greater area is also being controlled

by police and military roadblocks, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX.

 

———————–

Foreign Buying Unabated

———————–

 

7. (C) While Gono’s access to diamonds may have been

compromised, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that many diamonds are still being

sold to foreign diamond buyers in Mutare and over the border

in Mozambique by a mix of panners, police, and soldiers. In

particular, Lebanese buyers have set up shop in large numbers

in Mutare and typically pay for the diamonds with U.S.

dollars. In order to operate safely, the Lebanese have

formed profitable relationships with senior military and

police officials in the region. Marginally more reputable

buyers from Europe and other regions prefer to stay in

Chimoio in Mozambique. Chimoio affords these buyers

protection from Zimbabwean police and soldiers who commonly

seize cash, diamonds, and vehicles from them in Mutare, but

that safety is offset by higher diamond prices.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

8. (C) We previously reported on a meeting between Gono and

the Russian diamond monopoly ALROSA (Ref C) in November.

Recent press reports, corroborated by Embassy sources,

 

HARARE 00000024 003 OF 003

 

 

indicate that Mugabe is planning a trip to Russia in January

to discuss mining investment opportunities. With the GOZ

desperate for forex, such a trip could involve discussion of

a Chiadzwa diamond deal between Zimbabwe and Russia. END

COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

(110 VIEWS)

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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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