Nyikayaramba, the new commander of Three Brigade, said individuals and organisations clamouring for the military pull-out were eager to cash in on the chaos that would arise from the security lax at the diamond fields.
“We cannot just move out because some irresponsible people want us out,” Nyikayaramba told journalists in this eastern border city.
“Those making such noises are people who are looking for cheap diamonds to lay their hands on and possibly use the proceeds to finance illegal activities and conflict which will catch up with the country in not a distant future in another way. We were deployed here
to restore order which we are simply doing.”
Soldiers have been accused by human rights campaigners for killing people in the Chiadzwa area and other human rights violations. Human rights campaigners say as many as 200 people, mainly illegal diggers were killed during an army operation.
They have been accused of forced labour – forcing villagers to dig for diamonds on their behalf. The soldiers manning the diamond fields have also been accused of being part to notorious syndicates involving wealth foreigners and daring dealers, who smuggle the precious stones from the Chiadzwa and Charasika diamond fields.
The Kimberley Process has told the Zimbabwean government to ensure the military is removed from the diamond fields.
Nyikayaramba said the police lacked the capacity to properly secure the diamond fields hence the need for the military to maintain a presence there.
He said while the diamonds had the potential to foster economic growth they also had the potential to cause a national security threat if not properly managed.
“We look at security of the country from the physical, economic, social, technological, and cultural and intellectual aspects. So we are much alive to the dangers posed by the Chiadzwa diamonds,” he said.
Nyikayaramba said the army moved into the diamond fields to stop foreign nationals from getting the diamonds for a “song”.
He said the foreigners were from countries such as Lebanon, the United States, Israel, South Africa and Korea.
“I am proud to say that the military has brought sanity and order to Chiadzwa. There are these cries from those who were fuelling the confusion because had intended to continue to plunder and smuggle the gems,” Nyaikayaramba said. “They did not want the area to be sanitised because they wanted to continue getting the diamonds for a song.”
However, he said the diamonds can only be properly secured after villagers have been relocated.