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Agreement finally reached on commissions

December 21, 2009

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his two fellow principals in the
Government of National Unity have issued a directive for the announcement of
the long-awaited details of the three commissions which have held up
progress in the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara met for 2 hours 45 minutes on Monday soon after a Cabinet meeting.

"An agreement was reached on three commissions namely Human Rights, Media
and Electoral,' said James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesman. "A directive
has been given to some operatives to announce the three commissions.

"The principals will again meet on Wednesday in a bid to bring finality to
all outstanding issues."

Tuesday is Unity Day a holiday in Zimbabwe. Maridadi said the negotiators
representing Zanu-PF and the two factions of the MDC had been directed to
continue negotiating, meanwhile.

The National Council of the mainstream MDC resolved Sunday that the ongoing
talks cannot go beyond January 15.

"The post-Maputo dialogue must be completed as soon as possible and in any
event by no later than 15 January 2009," said the National Council in
resolutions passed on Sunday. "In the event of a deadlock after this date,
the matter will be referred back to SADC for arbitration and adjudication."

The timeline is in line with resolutions of the summit of the Southern
African Development Community (SADC)'s special organ on defence and politics
held in Maputo on November 5 that allowed the Zimbabwean parties two weeks
within which to open up negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues from
last year's power-sharing agreement or global political agreement (GPA) that
led to the creation of the coalition government.

The regional bloc gave the parties 30 days to complete the negotiations,
which deadline expired on December 5.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara tasked their party officials to thrash out
possible solutions to differences rocking the unity government, but there
has only been marginal progress.

A team of facilitators sent from South Africa by President Jacob Zuma has
been pushing for a speedy resolution of the crisis and has recorded concerns
expressed by all the three parties.

Zanu-PF adopted resolutions at its just ended party congress declaring that
it would not make any more concessions until the MDC calls for the removal
of restrictive measures imposed by Western countries including a travel ban
on Mugabe and his cronies.

The MDC has wrangled with Mugabe's party over the appointment of top
officials, including five MDC governors who are still not in office 10
months after formation of the inclusive government. Then there is the
controversial issue revolving around the irregular appointment by the
President of the central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana.

The MDC has also taken issue with what it views as Zanu PF's obsession with
persecuting MDC officials and the stifling media and constitutional reforms,
vital for the holding of free and fair elections within the next two years.

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Negotiators given two days to complete talks

By Tichaona Sibanda
21 December 2009

The Three principals to the Global Political Agreement met on Monday and
gave their negotiators 48 hours to discuss in full all outstanding issues.

The principals, Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara have
agreed on the final list of the media, human rights and electoral
commissions. A formal announcement of these names is expected either later
on Monday or Tuesday.

James Maridadi, Tsvangirai's spokesman, told SW Radio Africa the principals
had directed that their negotiators must meet and try to resolve all the
outstanding issues. But it's hard to imagine that the ZANU PF negotiators
have a completely free hand under Mugabe.

'The principals also agreed that they will meet again on Wednesday from 10am
to try and bring finality to the GPA issues,' Maridadi said.
In the last month there were signs of increasing frustration over the lack
of progress in efforts to resolve the outstanding issues in the Global
Political Agreement. Efforts to reach the so far elusive deal have
repeatedly bogged down over Mugabe's reluctance to rescind his unilateral
appointment of Gideon Gono and Johannes Tomana as Reserve Bank Governor and
Attorney General. Mugabe has also made it very clear that he has no
intention of swearing in the MDC deputy Minister of Agriculture, Roy
A source told us although there had been progress on 15 of the 21 items on
the agenda for discussion, there has been no movement around the contentious
issues that led to this new round of talks.

'When they sit down from today (Monday) until Wednesday morning, the
negotiators must deal with the six remaining issues. If they fail, this is
the report they will send to the principals who are expected to declare a
deadlock,' our source said.


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MDC campaigning for targeted sanctions removal

By Alex Bell
21 December 2009

The MDC has admitted that it is actively campaigning for the removal of some
of the targeted sanctions placed against Robert Mugabe's regime, just weeks
after saying the full terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) had to
be implemented first.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister's office, Gorden Moyo, said last
Friday that the unity government, of which the MDC is part, was trying to
persuade the European Union to suspend the targeted measures imposed on some
of the 40 companies on the sanctions list. Moyo told a meeting organised by
the Bulawayo Agenda that it was time the sanctions were reviewed, in line
with the new political dispensation, despite that same dispensation
remaining in political limbo over key, outstanding issues in the GPA.

Companies included on the targeted sanctions list include parastatals such
as the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO), the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) and the Zimbabwe Defence Industries. Moyo
said one of the reasons some of the parastatals were included on the list
was because they were used by the previous administration to fund
repression. But Moyo is now arguing that their operations had changed, with
the formation of the unity government in February.

"We are engaging the European Union as the government of Zimbabwe. Our
engagements are in many facets including that of the lifting of sanctions
imposed on about 40 companies prior to the establishment of this
 government," Moyo told the meeting organised to review the performance of
the coalition government, formed in February.

"All we are saying is that while we appreciate that these companies played a
bigger role in sustaining Mugabe's government, there is need now to review
the situation and see what can be done to help save these companies from
imminent collapse," Moyo said.

The move to have the 'shopping' sanctions lifted falls in line with ZANU PF
and Mugabe's repeated demands to have the targeted measures against top
members of the regime lifted. The party has insisted that the MDC is
responsible for the targeted sanctions, saying they had persuaded various
countries to impose them. A charge the MDC denies.

But the MDC has little choice but to campaign for the removal of sanctions,
as it formed part of the agreement that led to the signing of the GPA. By
not campaigning for the sanctions removal, the MDC is also violating the
terms of the agreement, that many have said was flawed from the start.
It was Moyo himself who last month said there was nothing the MDC could do
to remove sanctions. In an interview ahead of his departure for a conference
on engagement with the Diaspora in Cape Town, he said the problems in
Zimbabwe that are being blamed on the targeted measures, were actually a
result of non-compliance with the GPA.
"If we implement the GPA, there will be no need to have restrictive
measures. They will become irrelevant," he said.

Moyo has since clearly changed his tune, despite there being evidence of at
least one of the organisations on the sanctions list still being party to
continued human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The ZMDC is overseeing the
diamond mining at the Chiadzwa claim, where hundreds of people have been
murdered and abuses are still continuing. Their involvement alone should be
enough to warrant their continued place on the sanctions list.

Moyo's argument and defence of the MDC's new position is now likely to be
received with mixed opinions, with some quarters arguing the MDC is just a
pawn in the ZANU PF game. One observer commented that Moyo's defence, that
the companies were just underthe instruction of the past government, is a
poor excuse. The observer argued "it is like the Nazi's saying they only
committed mass murder because they were told to by Hitler." Worryingly, in
Zimbabwe's case, the dictator is still alive and very much in control.

Meanwhile journalist and political commentator Geoff Hill explained there is
no reason why some of the targeted sanctions, particularly against
struggling companies on the list, should not be lifted. He argued it would
be a strong show of goodwill from Western nations, who have made it clear
that sanctions against individuals are not going to be lifted any time soon.

"This would also make room for some vital concession to be asked for," Hill
argued, saying the MDC will be in a strong position, after the removal of
some of the measures, to make concessionary demands.

"The EU too can put its foot down and say, 'We'll remove some sanctions, but
no more,' until ZANU PF gives in and starts implementing this GPA," Hill


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Zim puts the screws on Nestlé

JASON MOYO | HARARE, ZIMBABWE - Dec 21 2009 18:27

Zimbabwean authorities have threatened executives at Nestlé's Zimbabwe unit
in a bid to force the company to reverse its decision to stop taking milk
from Grace Mugabe's dairy farm.

The Mail & Guardian has established that Agriculture Minister Joseph Made
and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, accompanied by senior police
officer Henry Dowa, approached Nestlé in an attempt to force the company to
receive milk from the Mugabes' Gushungo Holdings dairy farm. Two executives
at the company were briefly detained and released.

Selby Hwacha, a lawyer for Nestlé, said executives at the company had been
taken to a police station on Monday, but not charged.

"They were asked to come to the police station, but no charges were laid
against them. We do not know what the police wanted, or what the problem
was," Hwacha said.

It is understood the two ministers told Nestlé management that by refusing
to accept the milk, the company was "placing sanctions on Zimbabwe", and
that this could result in its closure or arrest of senior executives.

Threats were reportedly made to withhold managing director Heath Tilley's
work permit. Tilley only joined the Zimbabwe unit from Nestlé Fiji recently.

To test Nestlé's resolve, a tanker from Gushungo Dairy was scheduled to
arrive at the company's factory in an industrial park just east of Harare on

Last Thursday, six men claiming to represent Gushungo Holdings arrived at
Nestlé's offices, demanding to see "whoever is in charge" so they could
deliver milk to the factory. Nestlé workers said the men met Tilley and
finance director Farai Munetsi.

No comment was available from Nestlé on Monday.

Nestlé stopped accepting milk from Gushungo Holdings in October after
pressure from anti-Mugabe activists.

Mugabe has previously stated publicly that Made manages his farms.
Kasukuwere has used his ministry to push for controversial empowerment
regulations that would see foreign companies being forced, within months, to
surrender majority shares to local companies.

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MDC councillor arrested for holding rally

By Violet Gonda
21 December 2009

Mudzingwa Bakare, the MDC councillor and District Chairman for Makoni South,
was arrested on Sunday for holding an illegal rally.

The MP for the area, Pishai Muchauraya, said the councillor who is detained
at Nyazura police station is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.
Bakare was arrested even though the meeting was organised by Muchauraya at
Chitenderano Business Centre, on December 13.

Muchauraya said this is political harassment, because there was no reason
for the councillor to be arrested for participating in a rally that was
convened by the MP. He said even senior officials like Elton Mangoma, who is
the MDC Deputy Treasurer General and Minister of Economic Planning and
Investment Promotion, addressed the gathering. The MDC candidate for the
position of governor for Manicaland, Julius Magarangoma, also spoke at the
rally. There were another seven MPs present.

The Makoni South MP said the rally was to articulate his party's position on
the recent developments in the country, including the constitution making
process and the deadlock over outstanding issues in the unity government.
Makoni South is an area also seriously affected by measles and the
legislator said he supplied medical equipment, including gloves,
stethoscopes and drugs to the local Nyamidzi Clinic.

Muchauraya said the latest arrest is aimed at trying to block the MDC from
successfully undertaking their outreach programmes and delivering medication
to affected areas.

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Report exposes culture of hate and intolerance in state media

By Violet Gonda
21 December 2009

A report launched by the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) last
week shows in detail how the 'public media in Zimbabwe promoted hate and the
shocking extent of media control by the State'.

Political analyst Professor John Makumbe, who launched the 152-page report
titled "The Propaganda War on Electoral Democracy", last Thursday told SW
Radio Africa that it was a well documented report covering the period during
the 2008 polls - both the 'harmonised' elections and the Presidential one.

The cover of the report has the faces of both Robert Mugabe and Morgan
Tsvangirai, fitted inside a map of Zimbabwe, but separated by a bloodstained

Makumbe said the months before the controversial elections were fairly
peaceful but became very violent in June and those in the media also
experienced arrests, beatings and torture.

He said the control of the public media and the biased reporting in favour
of ZANU PF and Mugabe was very noticeable, and hate speech aimed at
demeaning perceived opponents was rife. The analyst said ZANU PF's favourite
words were, and continue to be, 'traitors, sell outs and puppets."

A whole chapter entitled The Language of Hate is contained in the report,
with many examples of how publications such as The Herald, The Sunday Mail
and broadcasts from ZBC, helped create a massive culture of intolerance.

"These media also played a crucial role in fanning the flames of hatred and
intolerance against the MDC, a legitimate political movement, at a time when
mobs of mostly Zanu (PF) militia under military instruction roamed the
countryside conducting a campaign of violent retribution against suspected
opposition supporters," said the report.

On June 17 2008, Mugabe was quoted as saying in the Herald newspaper: "You
can vote for him (Tsvangirai) but if he brings back the white, toenda
kuhondo - (we will go to war).

Also in June the Manica Post published a statement by the late Vice
President Joseph Msika saying: "If you vote for Tsvangirai on June 2, you
are voting for the former Rhodesians and you are voting for war."

The report by the MMPZ offers a number of recommendations aimed at improving
the media environment in Zimbabwe, including guarantees of freedom of
expression, repeal of draconian laws, the setting up of an independent
Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) and an impartial Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ).

However Makumbe is not hopeful that change will be coming anytime soon. He
said while the recommendations are good, it will take 'forever' to implement
them, given the current situation and media climate in Zimbabwe.

Another report on the state of the media, by the Media Institute for South
Africa (Zimbabwe Chapter), echoes the same sentiments. "While the
establishment of the ZMC and the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) is
key to the registration and re-registration of media houses and new players
wishing to enter the print and broadcasting sector respectively, this could
be a long time coming given the restrictive nature of the enabling
legislation, notably AIPPA and Broadcasting Services Act," said

This report by the media watchdog details the media violations of 2009 and
says that as Zimbabwe embarks on its constitutional reform process it is
imperative that media self-regulation is underpinned by a constitutional
provision, guaranteeing media freedom. MISA said the establishment of an
independent broadcasting and telecommunications authority is the best system
of instilling professionalism in the media, as well as an incentive for
potential investors to invest in the media sector.

The body said a free press, as opposed to one controlled by the state as
envisaged in terms of the proposed Zimbabwe Media Commission, will keep the
government at arms length and help 'foster media diversity, pluralism,
independence and responsible journalism'.


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Cash shortages causing havoc during festive season

By Tichaona Sibanda
21 December 2009

The country has been hit by a serious cash crisis, following a huge demand
for money for the festive season.

Long queues for cash resurfaced around the country in the last two weeks, as
clients could be seen sleeping outside most banking institutions, especially
in the capital Harare.

Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us the country was spending
more money on imports which was responsible for chewing up a large chunk of
the estimated $2 billion in circulation.

'The economy is not doing well and exports are still very low so a huge
amount of money in circulation ends up going to import retail goods, fuel,
clothing and vehicles from outside the country,' Muchemwa said.

Muchemwa said a statement issued last week by the central bank Governor
Gideon Gono, blaming Finance Minister Tendai Biti for the cash shortages,
was mere politicking, as everyone was well aware that the country's economy
was still battling the effects of the 10 year recession caused by bad
governance under Robert Mugabe.

This resurgence of bank queues is a real blow to Zimbabweans who were hoping
to have the first decent festive season in many years, now that there is
food back in the shops. The RBZ issued a statement last week saying because
it received only $1,5 million from the treasury to cover their operations,
it was unable to do much to salvage the situation concerning the crisis.

'Accordingly, therefore, all banking institutions are expected to make their
own arrangements in importing multiple currency cash to meet their customers'
demands,' a statement said.

Muchemwa said it was absurd to ask banking institutions to make their own
arrangements to import multiple cash currency, as this was their job.

'This is what the RBZ should be doing now. The sad thing is that the RBZ
have closed for the festive season so it's not proper for them to blame
anyone other than themselves,' Muchemwa said.


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Major Health Hazard Looms

21 December 2009

Harare - ZIMBABWE is sitting on an environmental time bomb as the rate of
litter generation has surpassed disposal.

Environmentalists have cited a sharp increase in imported non-biodegradable
material and failure by local authorities to adopt proper waste management
techniques as contributory factors.

Waste management is the collection, transportation, processing, recycling or
disposal and monitoring of waste material.

The term usually relates to materials produced by human activity and is
generally undertaken to reduce their effect on health and the environment.

Few methods of waste disposal are used in Zimbabwe. One method is called
landfill and it involves burying the waste. Recycling is another method that
is used.

This has mainly been used by small-scale entrepreneurs who use waste to
produce items like toys and candleholders while on an industrial scale,
there are companies involved in recycling glass and paper.

Another method of waste management is composting, and anaerobic digestion.
The resulting material is used as mulch or compost for landscaping purposes.

"The problem of litter is now quite rampant throughout the country and if we
are to find a solution we have to deal with human attitude first.

"For instance, when customers go into shops they have a habit of collecting
plastic bags and dump them on the streets. They should learn to use one
shopping bag several times," said Mr Rambwai Mapako, an environmental
officer with the Environmental Management Authority.

He said the city council should first provide bins and make sure they
collect litter regulary. Apart from that, all non biodegradable waste should
be recycled.

In the central business district of Harare a number of shops have been
subdivided but there has not been a corresponding increase of litter bins.

For instance, where there was one shop there are now several shops. Mr
Mapako said there was a breakdown of essential services owing to the
economic hardships the country has been experiencing during the last few

Local authorities had not been able to provide bins to communities.
Modernisation has played a great role in increasing litter in the city. For
example, in the past people used towel nappies unlike today when they are
using disposable products which are contributing to the rapid accumulation
of garbage.

Modern marketing has resulted in commodities being packaged in fancy
materials that cause environmental pollution.

"As the Environmental Management Authority, we work with local authorities
to ensure that cities and the country as a whole are clean. We have a right
to prosecute the local authority but the first step is to create awareness
among people by designing fliers and creating an environment club," Mr
Mapako said.

He said it was essential to teach people to keep the environment clean. The
authority has currently engaged a local bottling company to assist in
clearing litter in the city.

If the current state of affairs continues, people risked contracting cholera
especially where there is a combination of the litter and blocked sewer
pipes. The situation also compromises the beauty of the city.

The Environmental Management Authority is also working with other countries
like South Africa to find a lasting solution to the garbage problem.

Mr Karikoga Kaseke the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority expressed concern at the amount of litter in Harare and other

"It is cultural for Zimbabweans to welcome guests in a clean environment but
what is happening is to the contrary. Harare was dubbed the "Sunshine City"
because it used to be a clean city but now it is no longer the same and the
situation is equally bad in all towns."

Mr Kaseke said litter around the country does not support tourism. He
advocated for a re-launch of the clean-up campaign that was started by Vice
President Joyce Mujuru last year.

"There is need to impose stiff penalties against offenders. For example, in
Singapore, people are jailed for littering and spitting on the street," he

Mr Albert Katsande a representative of the Retailers Association of Zimbabwe
said legislation against littering needed to be enforced with strong
deterrent penalties for both individuals and companies. "People also need to
be educated about the impact of littering and made aware through campaigns.

"There is need for adequate and frequent refuse or waste removal facilities
and programmes respectively, which will encourage members of the public to
put there litter in designated places where it can be collected. Once
collected, the litter should be taken to disposal sites where it is sorted
and separated according to its different components such as bottles, cans,
plastics, cloth and paper," he said.

Mr Katsande said that there is need to establish proper recycling
programmes. "Plastics, bottles and paper can be reused while cans can be
crushed and exported," he said.

Government could play a great role of partnering with non-governmental
organizations such as Environment Africa to work out solutions to the
problem. The other way of solving the problem was to launch anti-litter
campaigns and programmes in schools.

Retailers and environmentalists have noted that the decline in local
manufacturing over the last few years has resulted in the rise of litter
because of the country's heavy dependence on imports.

"As a result there is no ownership of the litter problem by the importer.
Local manufacturing companies normally take responsibility of their
packaging material and its collection," said Mr Katsande.

He said the emerging plethora of "new unorganized retailers" have made this
effort ineffective adding that Zimbabwe should put in place legislation
regulating the use of carrier bags, their prices as well as their quality.

"Retailers should be encouraged to buy local products as well as sponsor and
establish recycling centres at shopping centres."

Harare residents said they have nowhere to throw away their litter so they
end up dumping waste where they see heaps of rubbish. A critical shortage of
bins has compounded the problem.

"Rural to urban migration has been on the increase over the past ten years
and the Harare City Council cannot cope with the resultant demand for refuse
collection." said Mr Shadreck Moyo, a resident.

He said children are sometimes cut by bottles among other dangerous
substances they pick from dumpsites. "During this rainy season we have a
serious problem. Since the litter invites a lot of flies which carry

Mr Dombo Chibanda the City of Harare waste management director said one of
the solutions to the problem was for the council to increase the strategic
distribution of pole litter bins in the central business district.

"The council has been failing to efficiently and timeously collect waste due
to depleted resources," he said.

He cited proper landscaping of open spaces, as one way of discouraging
people from littering everywhere. "The other problem is that there has been
an increase in illegal vending, hence the need to control the informal
sector activities," he said.

Another waste management officer, Benson Kanyangarara said uncollected
cardboard boxes behind many shops were contributing to the litter problem.

He said local companies that were involved in the recycling of cardboard
have closed shop because of lack of demand for the product on the local

Most of the boxes come from South Africa already packed with goods.

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Zimbabwe's Attorney General Threatens Foreign Owned Companies

Harare, December 21, 2009 -Zimbabwe's Attorney General Johannes Tomana has
threatened to prosecute any foreign owned company that tries to resist the
government's indigenisation law that requires them to give 51 percent
shareholding to locals.

This comes at a time when there are reports that six workers belonging to
First Lady, Grace Mugabe's Farm recently stormed Nestle Zimbabwe and
demanded it to buy milk from the farm. The company stopped buying milk from
the controversial farm after an international outrage, following reports
that the company was buying milk from the First Family's farm, which was
acquired through force.

The ZANU-PF sponsored black business lobby group Affirmative Group has since
demanded  the indigenisation of Nestle Private  company after  it
terminated its milk buying tender with Gushungo Holdings farm.

Tomana, who  is  one of the outstanding  issues  threatening the country's
nine month  old  coalition government,  told delegates attending a Christmas
donation at the weekend, organised by Nigerians living in Zimbabwe, that any
foreign owned company which attempted to resist the indigenisation act would
be prosecuted.

"We are a sovereign country that has laws which need to be respected. At the
moment we have an Indigenisation Act that aims to empower our citizens
economically and foreign nationals who fail to honour and respect it will be
liable to prosecution. We  are  ready to do business with  foreigners on
condition they  abide to the country's  laws like this one  which is a
reality and we urge foreigners to  take cognisant of this otherwise they are
vulnerable," said Tomana.

Political analysts say the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act is a political
gimmick meant to gunner support for the liberation ZANU-PF party. The
objective of the Act is to achieve at least 51% indigenous shareholding in
all strategic businesses of the economy.

Addressing international investors in Harare recently the minister of Youth
Development Indigenisation and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere said his
ministry was identifying foreign owned companies that needed to be

Kasukuwere also warned foreign owned companies to desist from resisting


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Civil Service Audit Fails To Reach Remote Areas

Chiredzi, December 21, 2009 -  Auditors carrying out the civil service audit
currently underway country-wide have failed to access some schools and
clinics in the remotest areas of Chiredzi district such as Chikombedzi.

Although the audit requires a physical count of civil servants, RadioVOP was
informed that places such as Sengwe, Chilonga and Malipati among others in
Chikombedzi were not reachable.

Public Service Minister Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro could not deny or
accept the allegations but said there were some places which were very
difficult to be accessed.

"Because of poor road network as some of the bridges were swiped by the
rains, some places became very difficult to be accessed. If we were
capacitated, it was better to have used air transport to got to some
stations," said Prof Mukonoweshuro.

Reliable sources said auditors had to agree that they just accept figures
they got from heads of departments after failed to reach some places.

"It was very difficult so were had to agree that we just believe in the
fugures we received from heads of departments. Due to serious bad road
network, we failed to go to some schools mainly in Chikombedzi. We could not
go to Chilonga, Sengwe and Malipati," said the source.

The places are near Mozambique and South African borders.

Although the official outcome of the audit to flash out ghost workers are
not yet out, souces in Masvingo said nearly 5000 ghost workers were
unearthed in the province alone.

Results of the World Bank sponsored audit are expected in the early new


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Tortured Gwezere wins bail case but remains locked up

By Lance Guma
21 December 2009

Supreme Court Justice Wilson Sandura threw out an appeal by the Attorney
General which challenged the granting of bail by the High Court to tortured
MDC Transport Manager Pascal Gwezere. In November Justice Charles Hungwe had
granted Gwezere US$500 bail, but the state immediately invoked a draconian
section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to suspend the bail.
Justice Sandura has now upheld that previous bail order, meaning Gwezere
should have been freed on Monday.

But as with all things Zimbabwean, he is likely to spend another two nights
in custody. His lawyer Alec Muchadehama told Newsreel on Monday that by the
time they got Justice Sandura's judgment, and went to the courts to pay the
bail, staff had closed early at 4pm for the Unity Day holiday on Tuesday.
This meant they will have to wait until Wednesday to pay the bail.

At the end of October state security agents had abducted Gwezere from his
Mufakose home and subjected him to severe torture. He was also refused
medical treatment, until a magistrate ordered that he be treated, but even
then the state refused to allow him to be seen by a private doctor.

The Mugabe regime is alleging that Gwezere stole firearms from the Pomona
Army Barracks in October. A second charge, that he underwent military
training in Uganda, was completely dismissed by the Magistrates Court
because there was no evidence. In November defence lawyer Muchadehama argued
the 'court must take a practical view of the case. Could a man from the
street go to Pomona Barracks and steal arms?'

Last year the state accused former ZBC TV presenter Jestina Mukoko, and a
number of other opposition activists, of recruiting bandits to train in
Botswana with the aim of toppling the regime. But as with all these cases
the state has never secured a single conviction, and judge after judge has
thrown out case after case.


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Rampant Smuggling At Beitbridge

19 December 2009

Harare - There is rampant smuggling of goods through the Beitbridge Border
post into the country, a situation worsened by staff shortage at Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority.

The border post is the country's busiest port of entry.

A team comprising officials from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime
Minister's offices, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Works and
the Department of Immigration, toured the border post this week and compiled
a report on their findings.

Zimra, the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the President's Office and Beitbridge
Town Council were represented.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the level of preparedness of
Beitbridge Border Post in handling travellers during the approaching festive

"Smuggling is rampant at the border post, especially for flea market goods
that attract high levels of import duty," reads part of the report compiled
by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Gorden Moyo.

The report noted that most spaces, including searching bays for inbound
trucks, had been converted into warehouses.

"This also puts a strain on the staff resources because the staff have to
conduct thorough searches to detect smuggling. To free up space, the
suggestion is to reduce the lead time before Zimra can auction impounded
goods. Currently, it stands at three months," the report said.

Zimra officials told the delegation that the organisation was short-staffed,
especially in the technical department.

"They have 121 technical staff. Generally, they would like to see this
staffing level being increased.

"The Zimra head office has confirmed that they will be getting an additional
15 technical officers from the 21st of December 2009 for optimal operation
during the festive season.

"Zimra Beitbridge depot would prefer to have an additional 30 officers,"
disclosed an official.

The report proposed the construction of adequate houses at Zimra Beitbridge,
adding that housing problems were making it difficult for the authority to
recruit new employees or transfer its staff to the border town.

The delegation observed that Zimra Beitbridge had problems with Internet
Relevant Links

"It has three Internet links with Harare, which are usually down. Zimra
would like to increase efficiency by linking also through Bulawayo so that
when there are issues in the one link, the other can act as back up. Real
time communication with the servers in Harare is a challenge," reads the

The report highlighted that security at the border post was porous.

"Security at the border post is also a problem. The perimeter fence has been
vandalised and is therefore porous.

" As a result, non-travellers have access to the border post and they commit
crimes including robbing or stealing from genuine travellers.

"Beggars also come to the border post, which does not give a good impression
to tourists visiting the country through this port of entry. The
recommendation is to have protective perimeter fencing and CCTV," the report

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Chinese mobile phone maker sets up business in Zimbabwe

News - Africa news
A Chinese mobile phone maker, G-Tide, on Monday set up a regional
distribution centre in Zimbabwe, from where it will cover the whole of
southern Africa.

In future, officials said G-Tide planned to establish a phone-manufacturing
plant in Zimbabwe.

Though not as popular as Nokia and Samsung mobile phones, G-Tide phone
handsets have captured a sizeable market share in Zimbabwe.

The phones are particularly popular among low-income people because they are
cheaper than most other brands.

Munyaradzi Gwatidzo, Managing Director of G-Tide Zimbabwe, said all
countries in the sub-region would be supplied from Zimbabwe.

Harare - Pana 21/12/2009

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Expats oppose tax in exchange for voting

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Zimbabweans abroad might have to pay voting and citizenship rights
WASHINGTON, 21 December 2009 (IRIN) - Zimbabweans living abroad may have to pay tax in exchange for voting rights and retaining their citizenship rights if the government embraces a proposal made by finance minister Tendai Biti in London on 13 December 2009.

Some émigrés fiercely oppose the idea. "It's completely barmy. You cannot put a price on citizenship and voting rights - normal countries have these guaranteed by their constitutions," protested Mduduzi Mathuthu, editor of the London-based website.

The 156-page economic blueprint, Moving Forward in Zimbabwe - Reducing Poverty and Promoting Growth, recommended various strategies to hasten social and economic recovery in the troubled southern African nation, including taxing its far-flung citizens.

The report was produced by 13 distinguished Zimbabwean academics and published by the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester, and launched by Biti at the invitation of its authors. He also urged expatriates to support the economic recovery process by investing in the economy.

Biti promised that their investments would be safe under the unity government, formed in February 2009 by President Robert Mugabe, leader of the long-ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main wing of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and Arthur Mutambara, head of a breakaway faction of the MDC. It has been an uneasy marriage.

Biti agreed that tapping into the savings of expatriates through taxation, in exchange of voting and citizenship rights, was one way government could source much-needed funds for economic recovery.

But the idea has not gone down well with all migrants. "Politicians must first focus on fixing the politics, which is broken, and investment will come in response to that ... This is a sure way to lose an election - whoever takes this up and makes it their political manifesto," Mathuthu told IRIN.


Remittances from expatriate Zimbabweans is credited with softening the impact of the country's economic collapse, which caused widespread food shortages.

According to estimates by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a UN agency dedicated to eradicating rural poverty, US$361 million was remitted in 2008 - excluding hand-to-hand transfers - a number that was expected to double in 2009.

Other estimates have put all remittances from expatriates in Britain to Zimbabwe at about US$1 billion annually.

The report, which has not yet been officially discussed, urged government to accord dual citizenship and voting rights to the estimated three million Zimbabweans scattered across the world - at a price.

"Confidence-boosting measures would include allowing dual nationality, restoring voting rights for migrants who hold Zimbabwean citizenship, and creating mechanisms for them to be heard. In exchange, migrants should be prepared to pay an annual tax for retaining Zimbabwean nationality," the report recommended.

Zimbabwe's stringent immigration laws proscribe dual citizenship, and those living outside the country are not allowed to cast absentee ballots unless they are civil servants on government business, but activists have been pressing for reforms since the establishment of the unity government - a fight that has support in both MDC formations.

No price on voting rights

"Voting rights are inalienable - we don't have to pay government to be allowed to vote. It's just outrageous ... It will certainly be a big mistake if government buys into this idea," Dumaphi Mema, president of the US-based Association of Zimbabweans based Abroad (AZBA), told IRIN.

Mema said many Zimbabweans in the US were willing to invest in the economic rebuilding of their once-prosperous country, but worried about the fragility of the unity government. They also wanted postal votes to be allowed in elections, and to maintain Zimbabwean citizenships even after acquiring permanent residence in their host countries, with no strings attached.

"Many people don't have faith in this unity government; recent statements by President Mugabe have not been encouraging. People need to see palpable political and economic reforms before they can commit their resources," Mema commented.

Brilliant Mhlanga, a political analyst, said it was important that Zimbabweans living in the diaspora played a major role in national rebuilding, despite the current political uncertainty.

"We have a responsibility to play in Zimbabwe. If we are really worried about creating a good future for our posterity, it is imperative that we support government's revival efforts, despite the politics of the day," Mhlanga told IRIN from London. "If it means paying tax, so be it."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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'Railway Infrastructure in Poor State'

19 December 2009

Harare - THE country's railway infrastructure is in a bad state, with at
least two-thirds of the network requiring urgent replacement.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti was commenting on the state of the country's
major infrastructure during debate on the Appropriation Bill on Wednesday.i

"The challenge we are facing is absence of investment on infrastructure. Our
roads are in a bad state while the railway network is collapsing," he said.

"Studies by a team of experts from the World Bank recently say we should
shut down at least two-thirds of the network because it is a disaster in

Minister Biti said the revival of the infrastructure such as roads and the
railway was pivotal to the country's economic turnaround programme.

He said investors also required such infrastructure if they were to pump
their money into the country's economy.

The NRZ is facing a serious lack of resources to maintain and replace its
ageing infrastructure, some of which has been in existence for over 50

Vandalism has also affected the parastatal, with thieves targeting electric
cables and signaling equipment.

NRZ requires at least US$274 million to invest in new equipment and expand
its network.

The company plays a major role in the transportation of goods and materials
for the mining, manufacturing and agricultural industries.

Currently, the NRZ is operating at between 30 and 50 percent of its capacity
because of a myriad of challenges.

The NRZ also plays a major role in linking other landlocked countries with
ports in South Africa.

Government has indicated interest in having private players participate in
the sector under various initiatives such as the Built Operate and Transfer

Government recently signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese
company to construct the Harare-Chitungwiza railway and electrify the
Harare-Gweru line.

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Press Release - European Union assistance in Zimbabwe amounts to 120 million Euros in 2009










European Union assistance in Zimbabwe amounts to 120 million Euros in 2009


The European Union has committed EUR 120 Million (USD 168.7 million) in 2009 as part of  a Short Term Strategy for Zimbabwe (2009 - 2010) in support of reforms being implemented by the Inclusive Government under the Short Term Economic Recovery Programme (STERP). The decision to implement a Short Term Strategy was announced during the visit of Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his inclusive delegation consisting of Ministers from the three parties of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to Brussels in June 2009. On that occasion the EU and Zimbabwe agreed to officially resume the Zimbabwe-EU political dialogue under the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement and to a dialogue on roadmaps for reengagement.


 It was agreed that the dialogue should lead (a) on the side of Zimbabwe to the establishment of a roadmap indicating clear steps to implement fully what has been agreed in the context of the GPA; (b) on the EU side to agree on a roadmap towards the normalisation of relations between the EU and Zimbabwe. The Strategy was developed in agreement with the priorities of the Government of Zimbabwe as defined in the Global Political Agreement and the STERP and thanks to further contacts with the Inclusive Government. It focuses on food security and agriculture, social sectors, humanitarian assistance as well as governance and Global Political Agreement (GPA) implementation.


In terms of cooperation with Zimbabwe, the EC has, over the past years, continuously maintained a level of approximately EUR 90 million of funding per year, mainly through humanitarian assistance and interventions in the social sectors and food security. This assistance is channelled through NGOs and International Organisations. In the period of 2002 - 2009 the EC support to the people of Zimbabwe has amounted to EUR 693 million. However, this is only part of EU overall assistance to Zimbabwe. In 2009 alone, disbursements of the EC and Member States have reached EUR 274 million. An overview of the EC's funding to Zimbabwe over the past years is given in the table in the annex.


The Short Term Strategy consists of existing commitments for 2009/2010, realigned to support the implementation of the GPA and the STERP, as well as an additional EUR 22.5 million in new commitments promised during the Prime Minister's visit to Brussels in June 2009. Out of these new commitments EUR 12 million will be financed from the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) allocation for unforeseen needs and EUR 10.5 million through the EC general budget, namely the Instrument for Stability. "The EU is a major partner committed to supporting the people of Zimbabwe and the country's economic turnaround." said Mr. Xavier Marchal, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Zimbabwe, "We have increased our funding for Zimbabwe this year, however even stronger (and longer term) cooperation will be resumed once we will fully re-engage".


In the agriculture and food security sector, EUR 46.3 million have been allocated in 2009 in support of the current agricultural season, mainly through provision of fertiliser to communal farmers. This support meets approximately 25% of the fertiliser needs of Zimbabwean communal farmers.  The European Union also intends to support a pilot land audit in the sugar sector if requested to do so by the inclusive government and should preparation of this exercise progress satisfactorily. Other areas of support include promotion of contract farming, rehabilitation of existing irrigation schemes, strengthening agricultural skills of farmers through training, support to commodity-based farmers' associations and livestock development.


In the social sectors including humanitarian assistance and water and sanitation, EUR 57.8 million has been allocated in 2009 under the Short Term Strategy.  Health is a key area where the European Union is addressing the loss of medical and managerial health professionals, the frequent shortages of essential medicines, and the inadequate provision and maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. Great effort has been made to respond to these challenges by means of a contribution to a retention allowance scheme for health cadres, the training of health personnel, particularly the provision of midwifery training, the delivery of essential medicines, and the rehabilitation of dilapidated infrastructure in the water and sanitation sector.


As part of the new commitments for the social sectors, Education will benefit from an amount of EUR 7.5 million that will be allocated to the Education Transition Fund (ETF), managed by UNICEF and aimed at procuring teaching and learning materials for all 5,300 primary schools with a view to reaching a country wide minimum pupil-textbook ratio of 2:1.


In addition, EUR 5.26 million will be allocated to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe through a contribution to the Protracted Relief Programme. The purpose of this intervention is to prevent destitution and protect and promote the livelihoods of the poor and most vulnerable in urban and peri-urban areas of Zimbabwe.


An amount of EUR 16.3 has been allocated in 2009 to governance. The objective is to support the implementation of reforms agreed in the GPA and indicated by the Government as priorities.


For more information:

Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Zimbabwe

EU House, 1 Norfolk Road, Mt. Pleasant, P.O. Box MP 620 Mt. Pleasant, Harare Zimbabwe

Tel +263-4-338 158; 0912-568 980; Fax +263-4-338 165

E-mail address:


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Earthquake Rocks Malawi And Tanzania

Blantyre/Dar es salaam, December 21, 2009 -  A four-year-old boy and two
adults were killed and up to 250 people injured on Sunday when a 6.0
magnitude earthquake destroyed buildings in Malawi's northern district of

A local government official called on thousands of people to leave their
homes because of damage to buildings and the threat of further tremors.

Another tremor struck neighbouring Tanzania, according to the U.S.
Geological Survey (USGS), but initial reports said there was no serious
damage or injuries.

The Malawi quake, which occurred at 0119 a.m. (2319 GMT Saturday) at a depth
of 9.4 miles (15.2 km), was the latest in a series in the uranium-rich
Karonga district this month. A one-year-old child was killed on December 8.

"Two people have died, a four-year-old child and his grandmother, after the
house they were sleeping in collapsed on them," police spokesman Enock
Livasoni told Reuters.

Another man died in hospital as a result of head injuries, said nurse who
declined to be identified.

She said up to 250 people appeared to have been injured, but no other
patients were in critical condition.

Livasoni said damage to villages was extensive, with many schools and
government buildings affected.

Karonga District Assembly Chief Executive Gasten Macheka said about 270,000
people had been urged to leave their homes.

"We are asking everyone in Karonga not to be in houses or near houses
because the situation is unstable," he was quoted as saying by the South
African news agency SAPA.

He appealed for government help and international assistance in providing
tents and medical supplies.


About 3,000 Malawians live in makeshift shelters as a result of damage to
their homes from previous quakes.

Production at Australian Paladin Energy's Kayelekera uranium mine was not

"The mine is designed to withstand earth movements greater than what is the
current range," Paladin spokesman Neville Huxman told Reuters.

In 1989, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake killed at least nine people and injured
100 in central Malawi and made 50,000 homeless, according to the USGS.

The Tanzanian quake, of 6.2 magnitude, occurred 84 miles (135 km) south of
the town of Mbeya, at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km).

"Up to now, there are still no reports of damage or injury. It was in Kyera
district and Mbeya. You could feel the tremors but no buildings fell down,"
said the regional police commander of Mbeya, Advocate Nyombi. Reuters

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The Zimbabwean Ghost of Christmas Past

With just four days to Christmas, the old spectre of cash flow problems has
risen once again in Zimbabwe, And when this was highlighted, the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, says that the problem lies with the

Given that the treasury is now under the charge of Finance Minister Tendai
Biti - an MDC representative -  it is typical of the pro-Mugabe governor to
point at Biti.

What is neatly forgotten by Gono is that the country's economic decline was
orchestrated by ZANU PF who have run and ruined the country since they took
office in 1980. To suggest that Biti is to blame for the money problems that
surface following three decades of financial mismanagement is absurd!

The country has even gone as far down the tubes that they have suspended
their own currency from being used!

The currencies of South Africa, Britain and the United States of America are
what is now used - and not everyone in Zimbabwe is able to source the
forex - which, in essence, means that they are without any purchasing power
or the ability to purchase food, pay rent, transport or utilities.

Mugabe's three decade rule has now bitten the poor in Zimbabwe - and whereas
Christmas is supposed to be a time of festivity and spending time with
family, Mugabe has pushed the economic slide to the point that people cannot
afford anything for Christmas - or even be able to afford a normal or
acceptable standard of living.

"Long queues for cash have resurfaced in Harare as most financial
institutions were caught napping by the huge numbers of people that have
thronged banking halls over the past few days to withdraw money to prepare
for the festive season.

On Friday night, some clients could be seen sleeping outside the First
Street branch of Central African Building Society (CABS), while long winding
queues were again observed at the same branch on Saturday morning.

The liquidity crunch also hit hard Beverly Building Society along Samora
Machel avenue. Even commercial banks such as Kingdom and Stanbic were also
affected with long winding queues at the city branches.

In a statement, central bank chief Gideon Gono said the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe was not responsible for the queues and blamed lack of funding from

Gono said most of the banks did not have enough notes to cover demand
associated with the festive period. He said the central bank could no longer
perform its core function since it "was acutely under funded by treasury,
leaving the institution with no capacity to independently perform the lender
of last resort function, let alone to import currency for banks"."

ZANU PF believe that if they make an allegation - even without
substantiation - that that allegation must have some merit because it was
made by ZANU PF - whilst they also believe that the financial problems in
Zimbabwe are the domain of the MDC - even if the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is
governed by a unilaterally appointed ZANU PF stooge.

Rest assured, that Mugabe and his senior loyalists will want for nothing
this festive season. They will dine on the best food money can buy, have
bucket loads of alcoholic refreshments, piles of Christmas presents - and
will stoically ignore the problems facing the population of Zimbabwe.

That ZANU PF do not have the popular mandate to run the country is also

Perhaps Mugabe believes that his rule is a present to the people of
Zimbabwe, but, in real terms, it is the ghost of Christmas past.

Robb WJ Ellis
The Bearded Man

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Zimbabwe's Diamond Mines Lead to Rape, Murder, and Thievery
By: Joshua HammerTue Dec 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM
Zimbabwe, Diamond, Slave, Fields

ROUGH JUSTICE: Zimbabwean soldiers escorting a group of illegal gem panners after their October 2009 arrest in the Marange diamond fields. Prisoners are typically held for one to three days before release to an uncertain fate.

Zimbabwe's newfound diamond fields could have helped lift the country from its misery. Instead, they've fueled a cycle of government-sanctioned rape, murder, and thievery -- and pushed the place still closer to collapse.

EnlargeZimbabwe, Diamond, Slave, Fields

SNARED: An MP watches over an illegal diamond panner at a detention center in Marange, October 2009.

EnlargeZimbabwe, Diamond, Slave, Fields

SCARRED FOR LIFE: Elizabeth (not her real name) once sold blankets and other staples to miners in the Marange fields; during a government assault in late 2008, she says, she and other women were beaten and raped by soldiers.

Ali Moussa and his partner, Shahab Hamdan, are peripatetic veterans of the blood-diamond trade. For 15 years, they based themselves in Bo and Kenema, in Sierra Leone, near the rich diamond deposits that stoked a decade-long civil war between the ragtag government army and a brutal rebel force. As the enemies battled for control of the diamond fields, Moussa and Hamdan (the names are pseudonyms, at their request) bought gems from rebels and soldiers alike, then exported them to international dealers at a hefty profit. Then, in January 1999, the world was forced to watch as drug-fueled teenage rebels invaded Freetown, the capital, where they executed hundreds of civilians and hacked the limbs off hundreds more. Pro-government British troops defeated the rebels and oversaw the transition to a democratic government. Eventually, Moussa and Hamdan were obliged to look elsewhere to make their money.

That's when they found out about Manica. "We came here [to Mozambique] a year ago when we heard about the boom" just across the nearby border, in Zimbabwe, Moussa tells me, grinning from behind a desk adorned with a digital scale and a pair of loupes -- the standard tools of the diamond buyer's trade. He's a bald, skinny Lebanese with an unplaceable accent, a mélange of French, Arabic, and the pidgin-English inflections of West Africa. "The quality's not as good as the diamonds in Sierra Leone," Moussa adds, "but the quantity is huge."

Just how huge becomes apparent during a swing through this once-sleepy frontier town at the base of the bush-covered Penha Longa Mountains. Long known primarily as a stop for a Laurentina beer or a tank of gas on the way to Beira, Mozambique's second-largest city, Manica has become a southern African boomtown: Deadwood in the bush. A Zimbabwean human-rights worker and a local teenager named João take me on a tour. We drive past furtive Lebanese traders sipping espressos in outdoor cafés or riding around town in new Toyota Land Cruisers; rows of pastel-painted ranch houses that could be in Orange County; a new mosque and halal supermarkets catering to the influx from the Levant. Bodyguards with rifles and German shepherds patrol outside walled-off compounds. Safari-jacketed Afrikaners from Johannesburg, who are vying with the Lebanese for a piece of the diamond trade, chain-smoke on the terrace of the thatched Manica Lodge. Shabbily dressed Zimbabwean diamond panners who've trekked across the mountainous border, their pockets bulging with rough gems (some are soldiers out of uniform, others civilian diggers employed by the troops), wander from house to house in search of a deal. Everywhere I turn, there is evidence of a vast unregulated enterprise, a libertarian's dream come to life.

Back on the front porch of Moussa's peach-colored bungalow, I ask him how much money he has made during the year he's been buying diamonds here. He smiles. "We are meeting all of our basic needs," he tells me. "We are getting by."

Moussa's coyness is understandable. He and Hamdan -- a sad-faced, gray-haired Lebanese in his late forties -- may be only bit players, but they and others like them are crucial actors in the illicit sale of untold millions of dollars' worth of gem-quality and industrial diamonds being smuggled out of Zimbabwe, ruled by the despotic president Robert Mugabe. And the transformation of Manica itself is only the latest manifestation of a corrupt and violent industry (smuggled stones may account for 10% of the $12-billion-a-year diamond trade) that, by fate or a stroke of divine injustice, happens to be centered on the world's most destitute and anarchic continent. Sierra Leone wasn't the only country in Africa where diamonds were used to underwrite rebellion at horrific human cost. In Angola, Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA guerrillas financed their gruesome 1990s war against the government by selling to De Beers -- if only indirectly -- an estimated $500 million to $800 million worth of illegal gems from UNITA-controlled mines. (In a statement, De Beers told Fast Company it "has never purchased diamonds from UNITA," but in a 1997 press conference, De Beers executive director Gary Ralfe conceded that "there is no doubt that we buy many of those diamonds that emanate from the UNITA-held areas in Angola secondhand on the markets of Antwerp and Tel Aviv.") And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), an assortment of militias have vied for the country's rich alluvial diamond deposits, perpetuating a conflict that has claimed as many as 5 million lives since 1996.

For decades, it was relatively easy to ignore the links between the atrocities carried out around Africa's mines and the jewels around the necks of Tiffany customers. Then, about 10 years ago, the international human-rights movement embarked on an unprecedented effort to prick the world's conscience and persuade diamond-producing-and-importing nations, along with industry leaders, to clean up their act. In 2002, they created the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a global watchdog group charged with getting blood diamonds -- narrowly defined as "rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments" -- off the market. The Kimberley Process was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and hailed as an important step toward bringing transparency to a murky and violent trade.

Today, not everyone is convinced that the process has been a success. The Kimberley Process mission, even former members say, has been so narrowly defined that the monitoring group has been unable to clean up the diamond business in any meaningful way. What's more, an institution that came into being to regulate the ultimate Darwinian industry has turned out to be just as morally compromised as the business it was supposed to purify, offering little more than what one critic calls a "feel-good PR exercise." Indeed, as the terrifying events in Zimbabwe over the past year attest, greed, criminality, and violence remain pervasive.

The Marange diamond fields lie about 50 miles west of Manica, in the foothills of Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands, a lush, temperate zone dominated by three mountain ranges: the Nyanga, the Bvumba, and the Chimanimani. Marange is a dry, isolated patch of rolling hills covered in the vegetation typical of the southern African bush -- thorn trees and a savanna grass known as shrub veld. Less typical, of Zimbabwe at least, is what lies beneath: The igneous bedrock here is some of the world's oldest, the kind that often harbors diamonds, those clusters of carbon molecules, converted into crystals under high pressure and heat, that are found both in funnel-shaped volcanic formations called kimberlite pipes and in alluvial deposits scattered in shallow gravel beds or soil.

The highlands' trout-rich streams, golf courses, and forests of pine and eucalyptus have invited comparison to England's Lake District. But the terrain is better known as the stronghold of the rebel movement that fought against the white-minority regime of Ian Smith in what was then Rhodesia (named after Cecil Rhodes, the South African mining magnate who swindled local tribal chiefs out of mineral concessions in the 1880s and founded De Beers in 1888). In the 1970s, guerrilla forces led by a former teacher named Robert Mugabe launched attacks from the Eastern Highlands on isolated white homesteads and army patrols, one of the crucibles of a savage civil war that ended in 1979. A year later, Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and Mugabe its president.

In the early years, Mugabe was revered as an independence hero. He promoted literacy and universal free education. He urged the country's 200,000 whites to stay on and help rebuild the country, and many did so. Zimbabwe built a thriving safari-tourism industry and its 4,000 white-owned commercial farms exported hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of tobacco and other cash crops a year; its minerals, including nickel, copper, and gold, brought in hundreds of millions more. By the end of the 1990s, though, Mugabe had followed the path of so many African leaders, morphing into a cruel and corrupt tyrant. (He has managed to retain a small following among his African contemporaries, who continue to view him as a liberator.) When a new opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), arose in 1999 and many of the country's white farmers supported it, Mugabe turned against them with a vengeance. He sent goons to seize thousands of white-owned commercial farms -- they stabbed, shot, and beat to death two dozen farmers -- and turned the land over to squatters, party loyalists, and military commanders. Nearly all of Zimbabwe's commercial farms stopped producing, and the country slid into economic collapse. Schools and hospitals closed, gas pumps ran dry, factories shut down. Unemployment hit 70%; life expectancy for women sank to 34, one of the lowest rates in the world; and hyperinflation turned the Zimbabwean dollar into near-worthless currency. Mugabe grew increasingly isolated and paranoid, unleashing his security forces to intimidate, torture, and murder opposition activists.

Despite the growing political violence and international ostracism, some companies continued to do business in Zimbabwe. Andrew Cranswick, a burly fourth-generation Zimbabwean, was one of the few who set up shop in those tempestuous days. Over lunch at a French bistro in Harare -- a green, once-prosperous capital that now features broken traffic lights and crumbling office towers looming over potholed roads -- Cranswick tells me that he and his partners founded African Consolidated Resources (ACR), a small mining company, in 2003, at the height of Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. "We saw opportunity when everybody else said it was too risky politically," says Cranswick, cutting into a beefsteak in the late winter sun. Much bigger players were involved as well: In 2002, Kimberlitic Searches, a subsidiary of De Beers, had begun exploring a 1,000-square-kilometer area in and around Marange. But after running soil samples, De Beers deemed the site unpromising and allowed its licenses to lapse in March 2006. At that point, Cranswick pounced. "We purchased mining claims [to Marange]. We had one ex-De Beers geologist, and we followed up on a lot of the ground that De Beers had explored," Cranswick tells me. Several months later, the ACR team struck pay dirt: gem-quality diamonds in sandy soil a few feet below the surface.

Mere days later, Zimbabwe's mining commissioner claimed Cranswick's license was invalid, and the Zimbabwean police moved in. "They ordered all 70 of us off the property at gunpoint," Cranswick says bitterly. "They had no legal basis for it. It was just greed, individuals in the government who wanted to enrich themselves." As Cranswick and his partners watched from the sidelines and pursued a lawsuit in the unpromising forum of Zimbabwe's High Court, word of the find quickly spread across the country and the rest of Africa. Mugabe, faced with an implosion of political support, declared the area a free and open zone, and tens of thousands of migrants, from as far away as Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea, descended on the Marange fields. One international-aid worker drove through in mid-2006 and encountered clusters of men under trees, holding up their fingers in the shape of a diamond. "I was asking, 'What the heck is that? What's this signal?' " he says. "And then I realized, Oh, diamonds for sale."

The capital of Zimbabwe's Manicaland province, Mutare, is set in a bowl formed by steep and rugged mountains northeast of Marange; as the gem trade took off, it promptly became a frenetic commercial hub. Along with the panners came buyers from Lebanon, India, Pakistan, Belgium, and beyond, swindlers and hustlers and strivers who spread hard currency and drove up the price of food and rent threefold. "We moved our offices in Mutare, and the old office immediately became a brothel," one Westerner who worked in the town tells me. "And it was all because the area was flush with cash."

It was clear at the outset that the Zimbabwean government, and Mugabe's inner circle, would serve as the exclusive buyers of diamonds from the freelance panners. But the parastatal Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe soon found itself overwhelmed by the scale of the unregulated panning and by competition from outside buyers with plenty of hard currency. Regime insiders such as Gideon Gono, the chief of Zimbabwe's national Reserve Bank, who sent emissaries to the fields with suitcases full of hyperinflated Zimbabwean dollars, were also becoming marginalized. Mugabe and his cronies watched as Zimbabwe's new diamond wealth slipped through their fingers and out of the country.

Blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into ruin, Mugabe's party was trounced in presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2008. Mugabe refused to concede and government militias and his security forces once again began a campaign of intimidation, torture, and murder of pro-MDC Zimbabweans. Amid the growing lawlessness and violence, Manicaland's governor, a Mugabe loyalist who had lost a run for Parliament, called for military action in the diamond fields. "He blamed the local population for not having supported him in the election," a Western diplomat in Harare tells me, "and he decided to teach them a lesson." Soon afterward, Gono announced that the government was losing $1.2 billion a year to illegal panners and that the army would be called in "to try to drive the illegal diggers out."

"Gono wanted greater market share of the diamonds for himself," says the diplomat. One military officer familiar with the planning of the offensive told Human Rights Watch that the top brass saw an army takeover of the fields as a way of appeasing an increasingly discontent rank and file: "Hundreds of soldiers were resigning, [or] deserting with their weapons [because they were being paid in Zimbabwean dollars] ... the final strategy was to give the military direct access and control over [natural] resources." In October, Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of Mugabe's armed forces, moved to a nearby Holiday Inn and set in motion Operation Hakudzokwi, which translates to "no return." He dispatched three battalions into Marange for what one military officer called a "swift, ruthless, and secret operation" to remove unlicensed miners from the diamond fields. "It was something made for Hollywood," says the diplomat. "It was a sequel to [the film] Blood Diamond."

Monday, October 27, 2008, dawned cold and clear at Marange. Around 7 o'clock, a panner looked up from his digging to see three helicopters sweeping in a few hundred feet above the ground. "I was not worried," he told Human Rights Watch early this year. "I just assumed it was a team of buyers who had come for business in helicopters, as they sometimes did." As the choppers approached, however, the panner saw military markings. Then the soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons. "We all stopped digging and began to run toward the hills to hide. I noticed that there were many uniformed soldiers on foot pursuing us. From my [group], 14 miners were shot and killed that morning."

More than 800 soldiers from three army units -- Mechanized Brigade and No. 1 Commando Regiment based in Harare, and the Fifth Brigade from the central Zimbabwean town of Kwekwe, along with five air-force attack helicopters and agents from the Central Intelligence Organisation -- descended on Marange that day and every day for the next three weeks. Ground troops followed the initial helicopter assault, advancing on pockets of miners scattered across the fields, firing their AK-47s indiscriminately. Miners stampeded in a panic through cramped tunnels, where dozens were crushed or suffocated. Witnesses observed soldiers searching the bodies of dead miners in the fields, pulling diamonds and other valuables from their pockets. "The soldiers pursued us into the hills," one observer told Human Rights Watch. "Unfortunately, we ran into a group of soldiers who stopped us. The soldiers marched us at gunpoint back to the fields and ordered us to collect the bodies of dead miners whom they had shot... . We gathered 37 bodies and piled them in an army truck." A local headman told the organization that in the three weeks of the military operation, the fields resembled "a war zone in which soldiers killed people like flies." While some local human-rights groups heard about the operation as it unfolded, it would take half a year for the slaughter to draw even a flicker of attention from the outside world.

On a morning last August, at the end of the Zimbabwe winter, the wind howled as I swerved my rented Nissan over a pitted tarmac road through Mutare, once the center of the illegal diamond trade here. The now-decrepit city of 180,000 people had fallen quiet again; Zimbabwean police had driven out the traders, and most had fled across the border for the relative charms of Manica. Farai Maguwu, a husky man in his late thirties who heads the Centre for Research and Development, a human-rights advocacy group, sat next to me, scouting for potholes, some large enough to finish off my vehicle. "In Zimbabwe," he tells me, "we say that if a man drives a straight line down a road, he must be drunk."

The conversation turned to Andrew Cranswick, the entrepreneur who had had his rights to Marange revoked by the Zimbabwean government. Maguwu theorizes that ACR had run afoul of Mugabe because the company had sold shares to the despot's political enemies. "You play with people who are on the wrong side of power, and you mess up," he says.

We follow a dirt track in the direction of Mozambique. At the Dangamvura Cemetery, Maguwu leads me to a mound of earth on the graveyard's outskirts, where, he claims, the corpses of 79 panners were dumped by the army on December 19, 2008. "Some were in an advanced state of decomposition, because they'd been killed and left to rot in diamond fields for several days," Maguwu says. "Soldiers and police brought them here in a secret operation, and even now they are denying that anything took place." I see no human remains and the place gives off no smell, but Maguwu tells me that he and his colleagues had entered the mortuary just before the bodies were removed and had seen evidence of bullet wounds. His team had examined hospital records showing that hundreds of people had been shot by police, severely beaten, and had dogs set upon them. "We were counting bodies," says Maguwu. "More than 500 people were murdered by the state in the diamond fields. It could be more."

Later that afternoon, a couple of miles from the cemetery in a dimly lit home with concrete walls covered with Christian homilies and pictures of Jesus, I am introduced to Elizabeth (not her real name), who had earned a living selling blankets, clothes, and shoes to the diamond panners at Marange. That same December, she says, she and dozens of other market women were arrested in a sweep through the fields by the military police. "We were caught, our money was stolen, and everything we had was collected and burned," says Elizabeth, a plump woman in her thirties. "Then they said, 'Line up, all you women, lie on your stomachs,' and they started beating us with branches and sticks. After that, they said, 'Sit down,' and began singling out the prettier women. They said, 'If you don't want to be beaten again, come with us.' " Elizabeth says she and five others were taken into an alley behind their makeshift market, where they were forced to lie down and remove their clothes. "Two soldiers made me sleep with them," she says. "Then, after forcing me to sleep with them, they sent me back to the others and they beat us some more."

Elizabeth introduces me to her nephew, a 16-year-old diamond panner who sits slumped on the couch, woolen ski cap pulled over his forehead. Before the army moved in, the nephew tells me, he dug for diamonds on his own or with friends. Now, soldiers ring Marange and almost all panners have joined "syndicates" -- groups of 20 to 30 men who work under tight military supervision. They turn most of their diamonds over to the troops while being allowed to carry a fraction of their booty to Manica. Maguwu says that diggers who fail to produce a sufficient quantity of diamonds are beaten, held in makeshift army prisons, tortured, and otherwise mistreated. "It's slave labor," he asserts. Elizabeth's nephew and his three friends had just made a clandestine trip to the fields, where they scavenged $1,200 worth of industrial gems, splitting the proceeds. But he had narrowly eluded army patrols and having been caught and beaten once before, he says, "I'm not going back. I'm afraid the next time they will kill me."

For most of the past century, De Beers controlled 90% of the world's rough diamonds and was known for its rapacious approach to business and a don't-ask-don't-tell attitude about the origins of its gems. With wholly owned mines in South Africa, and joint partnerships with the governments of Botswana, Namibia, and other big diamond producers, De Beers also worked with a tight network of some 150 cutters and polishers to control a vertically integrated diamond cartel. Yet over the past two decades, the business has become more diffuse, with major mine owners such as Australia's Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, Aber (which purchased all of U.S. diamond retailer Harry Winston in 2006), and Alrosa (which accounts for about 98% of Russian production) cutting into De Beers's market share. By its own estimate, De Beers now controls about 40% of the world's rough diamonds, with annual revenue of about $7 billion. The attitudes toward the business have changed as well.

No one did more to bring about that shift than Ian Smillie. A genial, gray-bearded Canadian who first lived in Africa in 1967 as a teacher in Koidu, near Sierra Leone's diamond operations, Smillie, now 64, went on to become the research director of Partnership Africa Canada, which focuses on sustainable development and protection of human rights. In January 2000, Smillie coauthored a report on the atrocities being committed in Sierra Leone, implicating De Beers and the Antwerp diamond-cutting industry, which together bought up nearly 100% of the country's stones. "The industry's standard line was, 'Guns kill people, not diamonds. We just buy diamonds, we don't have any involvement in this,' " says Smillie, speaking to me by phone from his home in Ottawa. Almost simultaneous with Smillie's report came a devastating exposé of De Beers's role in Angola by the watchdog group Global Witness. "By then, the state of denial was over," says Smillie, who became a key member of the Kimberley Process and helped organize the first international conference in May 2000 to discuss setting up a monitoring mechanism for diamonds. "Anybody who knew Africa knew things were in free fall. There was no regulation, rampant criminality. Diamonds were 'coming from' Gambia, Uganda, places with no diamonds -- it was one giant laundry."

De Beers, with the most to lose from a global PR fiasco, was one of the first to fall in line, shutting down its buying offices in Angola and Guinea. Thanks in part to prodding by Smillie and others, the global diamond industry, including major mining companies and such retailing organizations as Jewelers of America, climbed aboard in July 2000, creating the World Diamond Council to represent it at the Kimberley Process. Kimberley, which was formally endorsed in Switzerland in November 2002 by 40 nations, plus the diamond industry and NGOs, obliged all of its members to establish a system of transparency and tight controls. The new rules required shipments of rough diamonds to be exported in tamper-proof containers accompanied by a certificate guaranteeing the origin and contents. Importing nations were to certify that the diamonds had not been tampered with and to reject shipments that didn't meet the requirements.

But as Smillie watched the Kimberley Process play out, he became convinced that it was falling far short. Its narrow definition of what it calls "conflict diamonds" failed to target those gems mined in countries overwhelmed by simple lawlessness or run by governments with appalling human-rights records. (Today, Kimberley considers only gems from Côte d'Ivoire, where a rebel army is in control of the northern part of the country, to be conflict diamonds.) Moreover, Kimberley proved almost totally unable to take the only punitive action in its arsenal -- suspension -- against countries trafficking in dirty stones. In 2004, under the chairmanship of Canada, the body suspended Congo Brazzaville, which was unable to account for hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of diamonds that it was exporting. (The country was serving as a conduit for gems from neighboring DRC.) But since then, Smillie says, "the Kimberley Process has been dragged kicking and screaming toward the idea that [any country] should be suspended." Kimberley's awkward consensus voting system means that "if a single country says no, including the intended expellee, you've got a real problem," he explains. There are also no independent monitoring systems to guarantee that nations comply and too many incentives to cheat or look the other way. "There is no effective way to track the stones from point of origin to point of sale," Amy O'Meara of Amnesty International said in 2006, after the release of Blood Diamond drew new attention to the issue. "There is so much money at stake and so many hands in the pot. It's easy for the system to be corrupted."

Last spring, after local NGOs and Human Rights Watch issued damning reports about the human-rights abuses and smuggling at Marange, Smillie grew still more frustrated by Kimberley's inaction. To his eye, Zimbabwe was in flagrant violation of the procedures that, as a member of Kimberley, it had agreed to follow. By the Zimbabwean finance minister's own account, the government receives "nothing" from the diamond fields, meaning that 100% of stones mined there are smuggled out of the country. But while money isn't flowing into government coffers, plenty is ending up in the pockets of both rank-and-file soldiers and Mugabe's inner circle. The latter allegedly have access to a fenced-off, 2-square-kilometer area in the center of the diamond fields, said to contain the richest lode of gem-quality diamonds. This section has become known as Mai Mujuru's Breast, a reference to the country's corpulent, feared vice president, Joyce Mujuru, the wife of the former commander of the armed forces -- and one of those who has reportedly profited most handsomely from the gems. "If you're a special person, you will go there and you will be allowed just 20 minutes. That's where you can get clear diamonds," one opposition lawmaker told the Los Angeles Times last year.

Smillie was initially encouraged when a 10-man investigative team from the Kimberley Process -- civil-society representatives, diplomats, and diamond-industry officials from half a dozen nations -- visited Marange in June at the invitation of the Zimbabwe government. Mining and foreign ministry officials gave them a stage-managed tour, then introduced them to various government functionaries who painted an innocuous picture of the events at Marange. "It was a dog-and-pony show," one member of the team told me. But four members broke away and traveled independently through the diamond fields, guided in part by a village leader who had witnessed Operation Hakudzokwi. "We talked to the community, the miners, and went out to the mining areas, and what we saw was in contradiction to what the [Zimbabwean] government was telling us," says one member of the breakaway group. In addition to evidence of rampant smuggling, "we saw victims of dog bites. We saw slave laborers digging diamonds. We saw soldiers guarding panners washing gravel in the water." The observer was horrified: "I was so emotional, so disturbed. I broke down." One member of the team who'd been on the official tour says he was "relieved" when the independents reunited with the others later that day and related the real story -- "and not the same garbage that the government was serving us."

The Kimberley team's preliminary report, which was leaked to the press, condemned the Zimbabwean army for carrying out "horrific violence" and said there was "direct involvement of the military in illegal mining." It recommended that Zimbabwe receive a six-month suspension from Kimberley, a move that would ban not only diamonds from Marange but also from Zimbabwe's two other production areas, River Ranch and Murowa, near the South African border. Members of the team called as well for a special rapporteur to investigate charges of mass killings and slave labor, and urged the Kimberley Process to address human-rights abuses at its next plenary meeting.

Weeks after the team returned from Zimbabwe, however, Bernhard Esau, the deputy minister of mines and energy from Namibia and this year's Kimberley chairman, met privately with Mugabe in Harare, then held a press conference: "Yes, there are members ... trying to convince other members to suspend Zimbabwe," he told the assembled reporters, "but we will not entertain such [calls]." Esau dismissed the human-rights abuses as outside of Kimberley's purview. And he downplayed the smuggling at Marange. Investigative team members looked on aghast. "Esau came to this place with very little knowledge or experience," says one African member of the team who believes Esau was influenced by Namibia's long-standing friendship with the Mugabe regime. "I think he is incompetent." By that point, Smillie had had enough. Shortly after Esau's visit, he resigned as a Kimberley representative, calling the organization "complacent and almost completely ineffectual." Smillie tells me, "Zimbabwe's diamonds have blood all over them."

Seven years after Kimberley went into effect, the organization hasn't made much of a dent in the underground trafficking of diamonds. Although, according to Kimberley's guidelines, eliminating smuggling is one of its primary mandates, the practice still comprises about a tenth of the global diamond business, according to Smillie and other experts. And according to the Kimberley Process's own review, Smillie says, half a dozen governments in Africa -- including the DRC, Angola, Sierra Leone, and Guinea -- "don't know where at least half their diamonds come from. Their internal controls are terrible." The big diamond buyers, including De Beers, have cleaned up their businesses, but smaller players have moved into the vacuum: Sylvain Goldberg and Ehud Laniado, of Omega Diamonds in Belgium, have allegedly made huge profits over the years trading in smuggled diamonds from Angola and Congo, passing the gems through Dubai, Tel Aviv, and Geneva, and then laundering the money through dozens of shell companies. (In October 2008, Belgian tax authorities barged into Omega's Antwerp office, seizing more than $125 million worth of illicit diamonds.)

Marange's gems, too, have found an easy path to the underground market. "They will go everywhere in the world," I'm told by one Harare diamond trader. "The low-quality stuff goes to India via Dubai, the medium quality to Lebanon and South Africa, and the highest quality to Israel and Belgium." Because the gems have been smuggled out of Zimbabwe, the trader says, export documents are often forged, listing their origin as South Africa or the DRC, but to experts the look of most of the rough diamonds is a dead giveaway. "They have a brownish coating, caused by soil working its way deeply into the facets, that is unique," he says. "Everybody knows they're from the fields of Zimbabwe."

Riven by internal bickering and political agendas, run by people with a vested interest in protecting their profits, Kimberley has demonstrated repeatedly that a multilateral body with small teeth is no match for simple greed. "The Kimberley Process is about assuring consumers that diamonds are clean," Smillie says, but "it has done fuck-all." Still, he adds, instead of writing off Kimberley, member nations should band together to reform the consensus voting system and to create an independent monitoring mechanism capable of imposing harsh penalties. "There is no alternative. To go back to the chaotic criminalized days pre-2000 would be a disaster for the industry and for African countries that depend on it."

In the months since the Kimberley Process team visited Zimbabwe, nothing much has changed in the fields of Marange. The soldiers continue to send their syndicates of laborers to dig for diamonds, the illegal flow spills across the border into Mozambique and around the world, and Zimbabwe's politicians remain divided about whether or not their country should face the stigma -- and possible further economic hardship -- of suspension. Even key opposition figures have rallied behind Mugabe, insisting that banning Zimbabwe's diamonds from the above-ground market will hamper the country's efforts to bounce back from ruin. In the competition between moral principles and potential diamond profits, the money always wins. Last spring, the deputy minister of mines, an opposition official, denied that any killings had taken place at Marange, earning the censure of his party. "He's been corrupted," I am told by one MDC insider. Likewise, Tendai Biti, once one of Mugabe's fiercest critics and now minister of finance in the unity government that Mugabe reluctantly formed last February, hedged on whether atrocities occurred at Marange. "There were acts of brutality," he concedes when I visit him in his office in Harare. "But I have not seen evidence of mass graves." (In October, the MDC announced it was "disengaging" from the unity government until details of the power-sharing arrangement were clarified.)

Biti too takes a strong stand against suspension, arguing that his government desperately needs $100 million to $150 million a year to function, and that Marange could generate much of those funds.

He says the government should be given time to sign contracts with "responsible" private partners, so that it can begin withdrawing the military and bring transparency to the process. "You need proper mining to start taking place, with the private sector responsible for security," he tells me. But Cranswick of African Consolidated Resources, who won his lawsuit in Zimbabwe's High Court (to no apparent effect, he says), claims that the Ministry of Mines has begun making ill-conceived deals with inexperienced private companies with "shady backgrounds." And members of the Kimberley team that met with Biti say that the finance minister is being naive if he expects the military to give up its cash cow. "What he says is bullshit," says one. "He's a good guy, and I respect him, but with Mugabe controlling everything, there is nothing he can do." Only the stigma of suspension, the investigator adds, will force Mugabe to pull out the military. "You have to tell the government, 'You cannot export your diamonds until you clean this up.' "

Back at Manica, one of the town's biggest diamond traders insists that slapping Zimbabwe with sanctions will only punish the little guy. "The diamond is not a drug. It is not a weapon. It is not dangerous," he says. "It is benefiting the soldiers, and it is also benefiting the people. The people there are already suffering. They are desperate. To sell their diamonds, some are ready to die." Hundreds, it seems, already have.

Joshua Hammer, an international correspondent specializing in conflict zones, is the author of three books as well as countless magazine articles.

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