HARARE (Commodity Online): Zimbabwe is a nation with lots of diamonds and minerals but is one of the poorest in the world. Its inflation rate is almost 1,00,000 per cent.
And in Zimbabwe, there is a place called Chiadzwa, which is known for its massive diamond deposits that can be dug out with simple tools only a few feet below the ground.
However, the village is witnessing blood bath instead of prosperity now. Recently, diamond mining resumed at Chiadzwa fields in Marange with diamonds between 50000 to 60000 carats being extracted every week. The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation has predicted $600000 worth of diamond a day if state-of-the-art mining equipment is used.
However, Zimbabwe army and police are facing accusations of mass murder in a fierce crackdown on illegal diamond mining in the Chiadzwa area of Manicaland, near the country's eastern border with Mozambique.
Bodies of illegal diamond miners killed during the operation were piling up at mortuaries in Mutare. The government sent in the army and intelligence officers after local police were accused of taking bribes from the miners, known locally as magweja, and failing to keep law and order in the area.
In an effort to clear Chiadzwa and the surrounding Marange district of illegal miners, the armed forces attacked the village with helicopter gunships, spraying bullets, tear-gassing the mines and following up with foot soldiers and packs of dogs. Human Rights Watch estimated the deaths at about 200, but local villagers claim that many more were killed and secretly buried.
It is not clear how far Zimbabwe is willing to go in terms of cleaning up the diamond sector, or even if it is possible to clean it up at all, given the government's bloody history on this issue, and the human rights violations that lie at the very heart of the industry.
The real tragedy of Zimbabwe's diamond story can be seen in Chiadzwa village. A few years ago, it was a remote hamlet that no one had heard of, a simple peasant community of mud-plastered huts, with barefoot children tending cattle, men toiling in the dusty fields, and women walking for kilometers to fetch water. When diamond deposits were discovered, life changed forever for the villagers. The Zimbabwean military has turned the once quiet rural district into a nightmare.