All Lives Institute
All Lives Institute

ZIMBABWE: Massacre in the Diamond Fields, 2008 (HIIN=43)

When independemce was won from England in April, 1980, Zimbabwe had diamond mines at River Ranch in Beitbridge and Murowa in Zvishavane. Both had Kimberley Process (KP) Certification (aimed at governing diamond industry procedures).

With growing economic problems, the discovery of diamonds in 2006 - at Chiadzwa in Marange near Mutare - put an end to adherence to KP procedures. The State, in that year, granted sole rights to the rich diamond fields to the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). Beneficiaries of this move included De Beers, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners. Killings, sexual abuse, exploitation and other human rights abuses became the order of the day. Local people lost their livelihoods, their homes and their ancestral land.

In November 2008, the diamond fields were invaded by illegal diamond miners, from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds in the country. In response, the army and paramilitary police conducted a massacre. The Kimberly Process had failed to bring justice to the local people and accountability to the government. Members of the security forces and survivors have spoken out about what happened.

The witnesses say that the Marange diamond fields (in eastern Zimbabwe) became the site of the bloody massacre of over 200 Zimbabweans in the 'Hakudzokwe Mashandiro' - in Shona, this means 'Operation You Shall Never return'. 1,500 Government soldiers and paramilitaries machine-gunned people over several days. Freelance diamond miners and civilians were the targets. Women were raped. Hunting dogs fatally mauled people. Police officers ran motorbikes over victims. Other victims were beaten to death. Military helicopters, from Manyame air base, shot down people fleeing.

About 9,000 illegal miners were arrested. Thousands are still displaced from Marange and surrounding areas, to facilitate corrupt commercial exploitation of the mineral resources. The military had encircled all the local population, so there was no ready escape. In 2012, the country exported diamonds worth 353 million pounds, but only 26 million pounds was paid to the Department of finance in taxes. And 'Blood Diamonds' are still sold on international markets.