After Mugabe secretly visited the new runway constructed in the diamond fields at the end of February, I set myself the objective of finding out where the money is coming from for all this.
Huang Nubo has extremely strong ties to the Chinese ruling party and it would appear that he financed the building of that runway. The same Nubo is trying to buy up 300 square km of land in Iceland, supposedly to develop for tourism purposes,
Meanwhile, the security force commanders tasked with guarding the diamond fields, are also in the game, albeit small fry when compared to their boss! The stones that they manage to sneak out are mostly sold to buyers who conduct their illegal business in Vila de Manica, Mozambique. The buyers are mostly of Lebanese origin but use two passports – EU ones for travel outside Africa and DRC ones to travel within the continent – including into Zimbabwe.
The "blood diamonds" are exported to the EU, particularly Belgium, using certificates issued by the DRC so that they appear to be legal. Diamond experts know the difference between a stone of Congolese, Namibian, Angolan and Zimbabwean origin but choose to turn a blind eye – hiding behind the fact that a certificate is supplied. This is the same old story that we've witnessed being used even for the export of animal trophies where fake CITES certificates are issued.
On another note, it may also be of interest to you to note the extreme threat to the Zimbabwe rhino populations that comes from highly organised groups of armed poachers who operate with impunity throughout the country, wherever there's a concentration of rhino.
Once again, it would appear that our dear Chinese friends are providing the logistical support for these activities as well as providing a 'discrete' and steady market for the horns. It reminds of a case, a few years back, where it was discovered, in another African country, that rhino horn and elephant tusks were being exported en masse allegedly as goods covered by diplomatic immunity of the Chinese Embassy in that country – it makes one wonder what other monkey business is going on that we don't know about!
MANFRED, SAPost published in: Letters to the Editor