Zimbabwe's Diamond Mines a New Source of Plunder

Robert Mugabe is squandering a glittering opportunity for Zimbabwe. He has botched the development of the newly discovered diamond mines along his country's eastern border, which could be earning Zimbabwe as much as $600 million a month, according to a recent report by Partnership Africa Canada. That's enough to make a big dent in the $8.3 billion the country needs to reach its development and reconstruction goals. Instead, the mines have become a chaotic and militarized battlefield of panhandlers and corrupt police, while Mugabe allows his cronies to funnel the area's riches into their own bank accounts. To keep miners in line, government thugs often resort to violence, and Human Rights Watch has documented some 200 murders in the diamond fields over the past year. By demilitarizing the mining zone and implementing stricter oversight, Mugabe could boost revenue. Instead, Zimbabwe's diamond industry generated a paltry $20 million in the past month, and the illegal mining has also resurrected the label "blood diamond," making Zimbabwean gems a tough sell overseas. For all the energy that Mugabe puts into railing against Western sanctions, he'd be better off helping his country by cleaning up these operations instead.

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