Diamond buyers masquerade as refugees in Mutare

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FOREIGN diamond dealers are masquerading as refugees Manicaland province with several houses turned into illegal trading centres, a leading researcher in the sector has told Parliament.

Zimbabwe Centre for Natural Resource Governance (ZCNRG) director, Farai Maguwu, said police have not bothered to investigate the scandal despite being warned about it.

“We continue to engage them (ZRP) about the illicit goings on in the suburbs of Mutare, but they have not done anything about it and it now needs (Parliament) to intervene” said Maguwu.

He was addressing the Temba Mliswa-led parliamentary portfolio committee on mines and energy.

“There are refugees who, according to the records of this government, are supposed to be leaving in Chipinge (Tongogara Refugee Camp) yet they are diamond dealers,” Maguwu said.

“But they are not there at Tongogara Refugee Camp; they are in Mutare buying diamonds on black market and selling outside the country.

“So, there is need to investigate all the refugees who are supposed to be in Chipinge, yet they are big diamond dealers in Mutare.

“I think the Kimberly Process will also have in interest in this because all these diamonds are leaving the country without KC certificate.”

The ZCNRG director said houses in the eastern border city have been turned into diamond trading centres.

“As I speak right now, there are more than 60 plush houses in Mutare’s low density suburbs which have been converted into buying diamond centres,” he said.

“Some of them have security cameras (CCTV) outside to warn who is coming and I would not have had much of a problem if these were Zimbabweans

“My worry is that there are scores of foreign nationals who are illegally buying from artisanal miners and syphoning the (diamonds) of the country.”