Exiled MDC-T Treasurer General, Roy Bennett, used an investment conference in Cape Town last week Thursday to blast Old Mutual and its 'seedy role' in the "illicit diamond mining that is occurring in the Marange diamond fields."
Bennett, forced to relocate to South Africa owing to persistent victimization by the Mugabe regime, was very blunt in his assessment, telling the conference that the diamond fields are controlled by the military junta and were "attained over the dead bodies of hundreds of impoverished Zimbabweans."
Old Mutual has a 16 percent shareholding in the New Reclamation Group, a company that partnered the government to extract diamonds in Marange. Bennett expressed outrage that a respected London-listed financial services company could continue "its investment and shareholding in a joint venture with a disreputable scrap metal merchant and an infamous confidante of Robert and Grace Mugabe."
Old Mutual has tried to defend its involvement saying its "engagement post-dated any reported wrongdoing in the mining area. As a result, Old Mutual is most certainly not associated with activities which contravene the human rights of citizens." Bennett however described the excuse as 'reprehensible and obscene' and a 'blowing of smoke and hot air.'
Bennett said the MDC-T have urged Old Mutual "quietly behind closed doors, to quit their blood-stained investment" but the company has not listened and this had forced them to "air our grievances publicly." He reminded the investors that "Old Mutual and its partners have benefited from the daylight robbery of mining rights and from massacres by the army and air force of Zimbabwe."
Bennett cited the well-documented orgy of violence, where helicopter gunships mowed down civilians in cold blood, 'clearing the decks' for the junta's illegal mining activities. He said the opportunity now existed for international celebrities "to mount a Zimbabwean blood diamonds campaign" and said the Old Mutual should be aware of the danger to their share price should this campaign get underway.
Bennett also criticized Old Mutual for maintaining a significant share in Zimpapers, the publishers of the government-controlled Herald newspaper, among others. "If ever there was a practitioner of hate-speech and an apostle of vice and violence, this is it. This dirty little rag plays a very real part in the butchery and battery of our people," Bennett said.
"These are but a couple of examples of the companies that have, and continue, to walk the halls of shame in Zimbabwe. There is no shortage of them. When the day of judgement comes, I will not lift a finger to save them from the consequences of their actions," he added.