Mugabe arrests critics of diamond field move

HARARE - A leading legislator from prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party in Zimbabwe's coalition government was arrested on Friday while President Robert Mugabe's police continued to hold the head of a local conflict diamond watchdog organisation, lawyers said.

HARARE - A leading legislator from prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party in Zimbabwe's coalition government was arrested on Friday while President Robert Mugabe's police continued to hold the head of a local conflict diamond watchdog organisation, lawyers said.

They said the targets appeared to be critics of Mugabe officials involved in controversial moves to take control of a wealthy new Chiadzwa diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe.

Iain Kay, one of three white parliamentarians elected to parliament under Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change in elections in 2008, was arrested at his home in the town of Marondera, 80km east of Harare by police who ransacked the residence searching for drugs, weapons and pornography, said lawyer Kumbirai Mafunda.

Finding none, he was held on charges of possession of expired vitamin drugs.

Kay said the drugs were donated by a religious organisation for distribution among people of his constituency where medical services had collapsed.

Kay is a member of a Parliamentary committee investigating corruption in state attempts to assert control over the controversial Chiadzwa alluvial diamond field in eastern Zimbabwe.

Lawyers said the police were still trying to determine charges to press against Farai Maguwu, head of an NGO in the eastern city of Mutare which last week presented documentation to a top official of the Kimberley Process, the international watchdog over conflict diamonds, scrutinising the mines ministry's compliance with plans for the transparent, sustainable development of the diamond fields.

Maguwu turned himself in to police last week after they announced they were looking for him in connection with reports that he had shown the Kimberley Process monitor, South African businessman Abbey Chikane, official correspondence acknowledging that army units controlling the diamond fields were undisciplined and responsible for massive smuggling of diamonds over the nearby border into neighbouring Mozambique. - Sapa-dpa

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