Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said that his government will take over all the diamond mines because foreign firms were robbing the country of its wealth.
Mugabe told state television that Zimbabwe had receieved little money from the dianmond industry, said to be the world’s eight largest.
“Our people … have not been able to see or hear what was going on and lots of swindling, smuggling have taken place and the companies that have been mining virtually robbed us of our wealth,” he told Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation last week.
“We have decided that this area should be a monopoly area and only the state should be able to do mining.”
Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said last month the government had taken over diamond mines in the eastern Chiadzwa district after their licenses expired.
The country’s diamond industry has been tainted by allegations of rights abuses, including the killing and torture of workers, which led to an international ban of gem exports from Marange – where diamond was discovered in 2006 — between 2009 and 2011.
Zimbabwe, which earns most of its foreign exchange through mining, saw diamond production fall to 420,000 carats in the first five months of 2015 from 660,000 carats a year earlier, according to Bloomberg News.