Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cathy Buckle's Weekly Letter from Zimbabwe !


Dear Family and Friends,

A few months ago a friend was approached by a vendor who had a large
walnut -sized transparent stone. The vendor didn't want to say where
he'd got the stone from but claimed it was a diamond and he was
trying to sell it. The stone had a sharp edge which made a deep
scratch in a steel drill bit without damagaing the stone.Was it a
diamond? Who knows but there are plenty of stories like this doing
the rounds. People in Mutare tell of deals going down all the time,
men in dark glasses, cars with tinted windows and little bundles
changing hands. Some talk of clear stones, others are grey or cloudy
but whatever the colour we are all wondering just who died while
digging for these stones.

A chilling report has just been released by Human Rights Watch
implicating Zimbabwe's military in horrific abuses at the newly
discovered diamond fields in Chiadzwa. Human Rights Watch collected
evidence of violence, murder and forced child labour at the diamond
deposits in Marange. The report talks of military helicopters gunning
people down, of teargas being thrown into shafts and of people buried
alive. It says that at least 214 people were killed during a three
week military operation in October 2008 and of people buried in mass
. Press reports quote Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at
Human Rights Watch as saying: "The police and army have turned this
peaceful area into a nightmare of lawlessness and horrific violence."

Human Rights Watch says that: "Zimbabwe's new government should get
the army out of the fields, put a stop to the abuse, and prosecute
those responsible."

It is incomprehensible that this is going on even now as Prime
Minister Tsvangirai tries to persuade the west that we have changed
and are deserving of their money.

The Human Rights Watch report could not be more damning, or more to
the point when it notes:

"The government could generate significant amounts of revenue from
the diamonds, perhaps as much as $200million US dollars per month, if
Marange and other mining centres were managed in a transparent and
accountable manner. This revenue could fund a significant portion of
the new government's economic recovery programme."

There remains little doubt in anyone's mind just exactly why Zanu PF
refused to concede defeat in the 2008 elections: from farms and
wildlife to gold and diamonds.

Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy.

┬ęCopyright cathy buckle 27th June 2009.



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