By Alex Bell
02 November 2012
Comments by an international diamond trade monitor, who said operations at Chiadzwa have reached international standards, have been dismissed as ‘misleading’.
Abbey Chikane, the monitor from the Kimberley Process (KP), made the comments this week, ahead of an international diamond conference being held in Zimbabwe later this month.
Chikane, who will be a guest speaker at that conference in Victoria Falls, was quoted by the state run Herald newspaper as saying that “all diamond mines in Zimbabwe have reached international standards and stand as a model for many diamond-producing countries.”
But according to the international pressure group Global Witness, Chikane’s comments give legitimacy to a sector that is likely propping up the Mugabe regime.
Global Witness campaigner, Mike Davis told SW Radio Africa on Friday that Chikane’s comments reflect the fact that the KP’s narrow mandate only focuses on technical issues. He said this does not take into account the concerns that the profits at the Chiadzwa mines are not being accounted for, and are believed to be financing ZANU PF ahead of elections.
“So it depends what he (Chikane) means by model. If he means model for relatively high spec, technologically advanced diamond mining operations, then he’d be correct. If he also meant a kleptocratic system for exploiting diamonds, which puts the profits in the hands of violence security forces with a track record of violence against civilians, then he’d also be right,” Davis said.
He said the Chiadzwa diamond money trail should of real concern to anyone involved in the diamond industry, because of the fears that the profits will be used by ZANU PF. He said the party “face a situation where they can’t win an election fairly,” and in order to “beat and cheat their way through the next polls,” they need a source of revenue.
“Diamond profits are the source at hand, because ZANU PF can’t access international funding because of sanctions, and they’ve lost control of the finance ministry. Diamonds are a godsend to them,” Davis said.
Davis meanwhile said that Chikane’s comments are a further indictment of the KP and its narrow monitoring mandate, because it “doesn’t address the important question of the political ramifications of diamond profits.”
“In that sense, the KP is providing fig leaf of legitimacy for a diamond mining industry dominated by individuals who don’t deserve this kind of recognition. Chikane’s comments are misleading and deeply unhelpful,” Davis said.