By Kenneth Mataire
Mutare, March 02, 2016 – LOCAL MPs and natural resources lobby groups have raised fears of massive diamond looting by underpaid state security agents deployed to man the Chiadzwa diamond fields since the forced closure of mining firms in the area two weeks ago.
MPs questioned the logic of deploying police officers who are earning below the poverty datum line to protect an area known for its riches in the precious minerals.
The concerns were raised at a time when reports indicate that the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields have been hit by massive looting and vandalism of property after the miners were ordered out of the vast diamond fields.
This also comes at the backdrop of a series of allegations of police and army details who were widely accused of conniving with illegal diamond panners to loot gems before the introduction of formal mining operations in 2009.
“We are aware that it’s opening a new chapter for looting. It’s an opportunity for those in the army and police to loot. ZRP does not inspire confidence. I think they are the most corrupt civil servants we have in the country.
“We already know that they are bribing seniors to be deployed there (Chiadzwa),” said Mutasa Central constituency legislator Trevor Saruwaka.
Saruwaka added that police officers and their army counterparts have already set precedence after they were allegedly accused of participating in the looting of diamonds before the introduction of formal mining in Chiadzwa.
He said it is a public secret that state security agents acquired vehicles and kombis from their ill-gotten proceeds they amassed when they were deployed in Chiadzwa years ago.
A natural resources lobby group, Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) said government should have applied due diligence to avoid an opportunity for looting.
“Government should have applied due diligence in removing opaque diamond operators,” said CNRG acting director James Mupfumi.
It has emerged syndicates involving deployed police officers are already operating.
“What we are seeing is similar to what we used to see before the closed mining companies came in. Police officers are working in cahoots with illegal diamond miners. Buses are coming in with people who have heard of the situation and making their way to try their luck once more.
“Police officers are not making the situation easier, they are already compromised as they are working with some of the illegal miners,” said a source.
The Chiadzwa diamond fields became a free for all after Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa ordered the operating diamond companies out of fields two weeks ago to make way for the envisaged formation Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).