Was US ambassador McGee obsessed with Zimbabwe’s diamonds?


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James McGee, the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe during its turmoil from 2007 to 2009, seemed to be observed with the country’s diamonds from Marange because he believed they were being used to prop up Mugabe’s patronage system.

 

His three cables released by Wikileaks so far are all on diamonds from Marange. When the military moved in and the government was expected to move about 20 000 people according to a local chief commented that the relocation of the villagers, if it occurred, was the next preparatory step by the government to use the Chiadzwa diamond fields to bail out the failed Zimbabwean economy and prop-up Mugabe.

 “While we are highly sceptical of the success of that scheme, what is certain is that it would result in additional suffering for XXXXX residents,” the ambassador said.

 McGee is supposed to have obtained his information from a local chief whose name and that of the area have been deleted from the cable, probably by Wikileaks as it is now under pressure to protect sources. But in this case, the deleted information is obvious because Norman Chiadzwa has already been widely reported about as Chief Chiadzwa and the current diamonds are being mined from Chiadzwa.

 

Here is the full cable:

 

 

VZCZCXRO3452

OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0051/01 0230942

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 230942Z JAN 09 ZDK

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3957

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2572

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2694

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1185

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1963

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2318

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2743

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5171

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1861

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000051

 

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

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2019

TAGS: EMIN ASEC PHUM ZI RS ECON PREL

SUBJECT: MILITARY PLANS TO DISPLACE THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTS

FROM XXXXXXXXXXXX

REF: A. HARARE 49

B. HARARE 24

C. 08 HARARE 1035

D. 08 HARARE 1016

 

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

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (SBU) In mid-January, a local chief in the diamond rich

and violence-ridden XXXXXXXXXXXX

informed us of the Zimbabwean military’s intention to

displace as many as 25,000 villagers from their homes XXXXXXXXXXXX.

The military operation is intended to establish

control over the diamond fields as well as to provide

village-based housing to troops. The plan was temporarily

delayed due to the discovery of gold ore in the region where

the villagers were to be relocated. END SUMMARY.

 

—————————————-

Military Operation to Displace Thousands

—————————————-

 

2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX the local chief in

the conflict-ridden XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields of XXXXXXXXXXXX

Zimbabwe, met with poloff to describe a military operation

intended to displace the region’s 20,000 to 25,000 residents.

He said that the military had informed them that XXXXXXXXXXXX

had been named a “government reserve area” and consequently,

it was authorized to displace all the local residents in and

around the XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields. He estimated that the

area in question encompassed several hundred square

kilometers, which is well in excess of the 70 hectare site

currently being hand-panned.

 

3. (C) Chief XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the military’s plan had

been to move the residents in mid-January from their villages

to a site near the town of XXXXXXXXXXXX, some 60 kilometers north XXXXXXXXXXXX.

XXXXXXXXXXXX has a farm in XXXXXXXXXXXX where the villagers would be placed. While the area is within the boundaries of the

XXXXXXXXXXXX farm, the land was described by XXXXXXXXXXXX

as “just rough bush.” The villagers were to be provided with tents

for shelter, but no other accommodations were to be made for

their benefit. However, the chief said that the plan was

scuttled because an unnamed Russian gold mining group with

operations in the area informed the military that they had

recently discovered gold at XXXXXXXXXXXX. Consequently, the military is now seeking an alternate relocation site for the villagers.

 

4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX also explained that the operation was

motivated by both a desire to control the area and a need to

provide housing for the military brigades currently stationed

in the Marange region. An independent NGO in the area, as

well as the chief, reported that troops routinely force the

local villages to provide them with food and shelter, while

making residents dig for diamonds.

 

5. (C) Chief XXXXXXXXXXXX is establishing a trust intended to

raise funds for the legal defense and protection of displaced

people in the area and sought our help in the endeavor.

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

6. (C) The relocation of these villagers, if it occurs, is

the next preparatory step in the GOZ’s plan to use the

XXXXXXXXXXXX diamond fields to bail out the failed Zimbabwean

 

HARARE 00000051 002 OF 002

 

 

economy and prop-up the Mugabe patronage system (reftels).

While we are highly skeptical of the success of that scheme,

what is certain is that it would result in additional

suffering for XXXXXXXXXXXX residents. END COMMENT.

 

MCGEE

 

 

SELECT * FROM `cable` WHERE `id` = ‘188474’ ORDER BY `date` ASC

(23 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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