By Nelson Banya

Harare - Zimbabwean police have arrested six directors linked to a joint venture mining diamonds in the controversial Marange gem fields on allegations of fraudulently acquiring the concession, state media reported on Thursday.

The arrested executives include five officials from the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and a Zimbabwean representative of its South African partner, Core Mining and Minerals, in the 50-50 diamond mining joint venture, Canadile Miners.

The directors were facing charges of misrepresenting to government that the joint venture firm had the capacity to fund mining operations at its Marange concession, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said.

The newspaper said Canadile has since been barred from Marange, with the ZMDC now running mining operations on its own.

Police and ZMDC officials were not immediately available for comment.

Apart from Canadile, two other firms currently operate in the Marange fields in 50-50 partnerships with Zimbabwe's government.

The other two are Mbada Diamonds, jointly owned by South Africa's New Reclamation Group, and Anjin, a Chinese joint venture.

Human rights groups are pushing for a ban on stones from the 66 000 hectare Marange fields in eastern Zimbabwe over alleged atrocities committed by security forces as they clamped down on 30 000 illegal diggers who descended on the then poorly secured area in 2008.

Zimbabwe, which has held two auctions under the supervision of industry watchdog Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and says it still holds some 4.5 million carats in its stockpile, has said it will soon resume gem sales as it has met the standards demanded by the global regulator. - Reuters