How the country's newfound diamond fields are fueling a new cycle of government-sanctioned rape, murder and thievery-and pushing the country closer to collapse
New York, November 24, 2009 - In the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Fast Company, Joshua Hammer uncovers the bloody shame of Zimbabwe's newfound diamond mines and how they've stoked new violence that is pushing the country ever closer to collapse. The issue is available online at fastcompany.com beginning November 24 and on newsstands December 1.
The current diamond boom has exposed once again the dirty side of shiny stones: 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. This, Hammer writes, "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."
And, Hammer adds, the institution created to clean up the business has proven to be toothless at best. "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," he writes. "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 [such as DeBeers], to clean up their act." The resulting Kimberly Process Certification Scheme was created in 2002 as a global watchdog group charged with getting so called blood diamonds-off the market. But Kimberly "has turned out to be just as morally compromised as the business it was supposed to purify," Hammer writes, "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."
For this and other stories in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Fast Company, go to www.fastcompany.com.
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