Daily News  :: Southern Africa

Bread worth diamonds in Zimbabwe

Published: 03-NOV-06

Harare - Illegal diamond traders, some from South Africa, were flocking to a diamond field in a remote part of eastern Zimbabwe and smuggling diamonds away in loaves and jelly bottles, it was reported on Friday.

Twenty illegal diamond dealers have been arrested since news of the discovery of diamonds in Marange communal lands first broke, sending thousands flocking to the area in the hope of striking it rich, said the weekly Manica Post.

The Zimbabwean authorities were having a tough time tracking the diamonds, a potential source of desperately needed foreign currency.

The paper said miners were seen openly selling their finds to dealers in cars, some of them with South African registered number plates. It said that many of the miners were from neighbouring Mozambique.

Local police chief James Makone has warned of the rampant leakages of diamonds from Marange, the Manica Post said.

Diamonds were now being used as currency in the area, as businesspeople and cross-border traders also attempt to cash in on the riches.

Traders were hawking foodstuffs, furniture, clothes and detergents in the remote area, often in return for diamonds, the report said.

"There is hunger in this areas and these smugglers disguise as traders, but what they are mostly interested in is diamonds. Their transactions are not in cash but in diamonds, said the paper.

The official Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) is supposed to have a monopoly on purchasing all diamonds discovered in the area, but they bought the stones twice and quickly ran out of cash, one miner, Jacob Mugabe said. -AND

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