Harare: Zimbabwe’s often reserved vice president Joyce Mujuru has sparked a potential diplomatic spat following her weekend tongue-in-cheek comment over India’s Surat.
Surat, a city in the Indian state of Gujarat, was considered the world’s biggest diamond cutting and polishing centre.
She was quoted in the local press as having said that India had “built a whole town” from smuggled Marange diamonds.
New Zimbabwe reports that the flow of cheap diamonds from Marange diamonds proved critical for city last year after processors there were forced to stop purchasing rough diamonds from big miners due to 20 per cent increase in prices.
Mujuru, however, made a sensational claim that the Indians had prospered while Zimbabwe had nothing to show for its diamonds.
“Right now they are claiming that the Marange diamonds have been exhausted but no one here has any diamond rings or other jewels,” she said in her native language Shona.
“No jobs were created locally in diamond polishing. All the diamonds were taken to India wh ere they have built a town from Chiadzwa [Marange] diamonds – it’s called Surat and yet Zimbabweans continue to struggle.”
Meanwhile, New Zimbabwe cited unnamed government ‘sources’ as saying that there was “alarm” at Mujuru’s comments and their implications on Zimbabwe-India relations.
“You can’t make that statement without facts because you’re throwing mud at a whole country,” said the official.
“The claim that India started a town afresh with Zimbabwean diamonds is quite serious. It’s unbelievable. If that doesn’t trigger a diplomatic storm, nothing ever would.”