Mujuru fingered in diamond deal (30-11-06)

HARARE - Retired Army General Solomon Mujuru has been fingered as the mastermind behind manoeuvres by a British-registered company to assume control of rich diamond claims discovered recently in Marange area, on the eastern border of Zimbabwe.
Sources from Mutare say that the company, fronted by

one Warnswick and trading under the name African Consolidated Resources but owned by top Zanu (PF) and army chefs, has elbowed out De Beers, the South African-based conglomerate company contracted to exploit the deposits.
More than 80 retired soldiers and police officers have been recruited to guard the area as it emerged that top army and police officers have an interest in the claims.
The powerful former liberation war fighter, husband of the vice president, is reportedly using his military and political muscle to intimidate opponents in the lucrative project and has contracted a company to fence off the area.
He could not be reached for comment as the person who answered to his phone said he was not in the country.
But Mines and Development deputy minister, Tinos Rusere, denies the company has been granted a licence to exploit the area, saying no one has been given a licence yet as his ministry is still deliberating on the deal.
The source said it would need President Robert Mugabe’s intervention to end the imbroglio as Makoni MP and Mugabe’s confidante, Didymus Mutasa, has teamed up with Manicaland governor Tinei Chigudu to prevent any intrusion by outsiders, saying the claims should benefit the people of Manicaland.
About 15 000 people thronged the place last month as word spread that diamond deposits had been discovered. More than 600 police officers have now cordoned off most parts of Marange to prevent outsiders from entering.
South African-registered vehicles are to be seen parked along the nearby highway, as villagers dodge police to sell diamonds in foreign currency. – Own correspondent

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