Russia pulls out of blood diamond deal

diamond__pieceHARARE - The Zimbabwe-Russia Mining Protocol has been jeopardised after a Russian company pulled out, citing the controversy surrounding the Marange blood diamonds as its reason.

Speaking before a parliamentary committee, mines and mineral development deputy minister, Murisi Zwizwai, said he had been told by minister Obert Mpofu that the unnamed Russian company had withdrawn because of the murky nature of the deal.

“He (Mpofu) told me that a Russian company, which had been asked to come and invest here, refused as it feared that once footprints were traced, it would be tainted given that the ZMDC was on the sanctions list,” Zwizwai said.

The Zim-Russia Mining Protocol was hastily drawn up and signed in April 2008 in Nyanga by the late vice-president Joseph Msika and Russian officials under a veil of secrecy.

According to Zimbabwean government sources who spoke to ***The Zimbabwean ,the deal was negotiated by defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who was, at that time, head of the Joint Operations Command running the country after Robert Mugabe lost the presidential elections to Morgan Tsvangirai in March 2008.

The purpose of the deal was to facilitate arms purchases that were expected to keep Mugabe in power after he pulled off a widely-condemned de facto coup, the sources revealed.

In exchange for diamonds, the Russians were expected to provide Zimbabwe with heavy weapons and diplomatic support at the United Nations. Russia did help to keep Zimbabwe off the agenda of the UN Security Council which wanted to chasten Mugabe for vote rigging. However, Moscow reportedly declined to supply weapons or get involved in Marange as that would have tainted its own diamond industry.

Mnangagwa later turned to China for arms but failed to secure heavy weapons.

Post published in: Economy

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