Diamonds in Zimbabwe

May 01st, 2007
Diamonds in Zimbabwe

In October 2006, the Zimbabwean press broke news of a diamond finding in the remote district of Marange, in the eastern province of Manicaland. This immediately precipitated a scramble for the precious mineral by both local villagers and fortune hunters from outside the district, and indeed from outside the country. The Zimbabwe government is seeking to exert some regulation on the mining activities and on the diamond trade, but with limited success so far. Mining corporations are lining up to explore opportunities for entry into this potentially lucrative sector, while the local villagers continue to exploit opportunities, searching day and night and by all means for the new mineral, known locally as ngoda. There have been widespread reports about environmental degradation as a consequence of unregulated mining, and of efforts to smuggle the mineral out of Marange, and out of the country.2 There have also been reports of human rights abuses, what with the tightening of entry into the diamond fields and the introduction of checkpoint searches. This situational report attempts a preliminary analysis of the various dimensions of the Marange diamond rush. In particular, it assesses: the factors behind the scramble for the diamonds; the extent and effects of artisinal mining; the role of government in attempting to exert its authority and some order in diamond mining and trading, as well as its policing activities; the role of mining corporations; and the human rights situation in the mining area. The report also explores the benefits, if any, that have accrued to the community in Marange and to the country at large.

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