Is President Mugabe using the blood diamonds profits to stick on to power in Zimbabwe? The dismal failure of the Kimberley Process to regulate the sale of conflict diamonds begs this question as environmentalists and human rights activists criticize the situation.
There have been unsubstantiated claims that the feared Central Information Organization (CIO), Mugabe’s secret police, has picked up large number of vehicles and weapons from China. The cash for all these purchases is said to have come from the sales proceeds of conflict gems. There have been reports that the treasury had been deprived of $60 million last year to feed corrupt politicians.
The opposition Member of Parliament Eddie Cross said that it was quite clear that there's much more money floating around than is justified by the level of economic activity.
This accusation rings especially true as the CIO’s budgets have officially faced drastic reduction in funding after the finance minister blocked it. There are concerns that the newly equipped CIO will be used to intimidate the voters in the elections next year.
Global Witness, a human rights group, walked out of the Kimberly Process severely criticizing the way it handled the issue of conflict diamonds. Mike Davis from Global Witness said that it took money to pay for violence and human rights abuses and the tap had been turned off for Mugabe and his allies.
Mr Davis added that the Kimberley Process has turned it back on Mugabe and Zimbabwe by allowing them to sell their diamonds despite clear evidence of human rights abuses and killings. He also said that the benefits from diamond sales in Zimbabwe are going directly to Mugabe and his allies. The Kimberley Process was now a fig leaf for the diamond industry, he said.