AT LEAST €1.6bn worth of diamonds have been stolen from Zimbabwe's eastern diamond fields and enriched President Robert Mugabe's ruling circle, international gem dealers and criminals, claims an organisation leading the campaign against conflict diamonds.
Zimbabwe's Marange fields have seen "the biggest plunder of diamonds since Cecil Rhodes," the colonial magnate who exploited South Africa's Kimberley diamonds a century ago, said Partnership Africa Canada, a member of the Kimberley Process, the world regulatory body for the diamond trade.
Zimbabwe's eastern Marange field – one of the world's biggest diamond deposits – has been mined since 2006 and its vast earnings could have turned around Zimbabwe's economy, the group said. But funds from the diamond sales have not showed up in the state treasury. Instead there is evidence that millions have gone to Mr Mugabe's cronies.