Diamond trade watchdog criticised over Zim decision

Kimberly Process

By Alex Bell
04 December 2012

The international diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), is facing criticism for endorsing Zimbabwe’s diamond trade and lifting the monitoring mechanisms previously in place to oversee the local industry.

The KP made this decision at the end of its annual plenary session last week, which saw a number of civil society and human rights groups raise concern about the Zim diamond trade. Chief among these concerns are claims that diamond profits are funding a ‘parallel’ government in Zimbabwe, whose main aim is to keep the ZANU PF regime in power.

But the KP has now officially endorsed the Zim trade, saying the country is fully ‘compliant’, despite the concerns raised by civic groups. The KP said, as a result, it would withdraw its monitoring team because Zimbabwe fulfilled all the requirements to certify its own diamond exports.

Zimbabwe’s diamond trade has been in the media spotlight since 2008 when hundreds of diamond panners were allegedly murdered by the military at the Chiadzwa diamond fields. The country was later suspended from international trade over concerns of human rights abuses. But the KP never took decisive punitive action against the then ZANU PF government, and has continued its lenient treatment of the subsequent ZANU PF run Mines Ministry.

Zimbabwe was granted time to improve the situation at the Chiadzwa fields, where ZANU PF top dogs are said to be the leading beneficiaries of illicit sales. Such sales continued, despite Zimbabwe’s suspension from trade, and millions of dollars are said to have been pocketed.

A recent report has indicated that about US$2 billion worth of diamonds have been siphoned out of Zimbabwe in the past four years by a network of ZANU PF ministers and military officials.

“Conservative estimates place the theft of Marange goods at almost $2 billion since 2008,” Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) said in a report last month.

PAC campaigner Alan Martin told SW Radio Africa that the KP’s decision to endorse Zimbabwe’s diamond trade is a reflection of the fact that the monitoring body “lost political will to do anything on Zimbabwe years ago.” He said the KP decision has been cemented in technical facts “without looking at larger, more important issues.”

“We remain concerned about the operations of the diamond companies in Chiadzwa, and unanswered questions like the sale of diamonds under embargo and other issues,” Martin said.

Similar concerns have been raised by the pressure group Global Witness, which withdrew from the KP civil society wing in 2011 because of the lack of action on Zimbabwe. Annie Dunnebacke from Global Witness told SW Radio Africa that the KP’s decision to endorse Zimbabwe “is a final signal for us that the KP is not the place to go to clean up the diamond trade.”

“Their premise for lifting the monitoring arrangement is based entirely on the wrong thing. They are focused on the technical advancements being made while turning a blind eye to the more grievous issues at play,” Dunnebacke said.

She added that the onus is now on the diamond industry to adopt “due diligence” practices to ensure that the diamonds they source do not fund repression or election violence.

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5 Responsesto “Diamond trade watchdog criticised over Zim decision”

  1. Chimbwido Warvet says:

    ‘Their premise for lifting the monitoring arrangement is based entirely on the wrong thing. They are focused on the technical advancements being made while turning a blind eye to the more grievous issues at play,” Dunnebacke said. She added that the onus is now on the diamond industry to adopt “due diligence” practices to ensure that the diamonds they source do not fund repression or election violence.’ Quite frankly, it is a curse to be a black African because nobody in the western world cares about the suffering they have visited the Zimbabwean people. For nearly four hundred years our mineral and land resources were exploited at the hands of our former slave and colonial masters and products shipped to Europe for nothing. Where were these pressure groups when my people were suffering? Did they not see the plunder that visited the people of this country and if so why did they keep quiet when the people of this country were in this predicament? Today the people of this country do not own big business while 99 percent of the economy is controlled by foreigners. And the iron of it all is that as the indigenous people of this country make an effort to own and control their natural resources, they call it corruption.

    The bottom line is Zimbabweans should own and control their diamonds without outside interference. We do not need any monitoring arrangement for our own diamonds. Zimbabweans should own and control their diamonds, no matter where the authorities of this country decide to direct the proceeds of their God given resources. Bullies should get out and leave us alone, end of story.

    • Common Sense says:

      It does need monitoring when an elite few take control and boot out and kill the people that were there…. but more importantly the fact that the Zimbabwe treasury does not see the revenue, and the elite mortgage Zimbabwe to the Chinese… that is the problem.

      So your views on Zimbabwe not being interfered with by foreigners has zero to do with it…

  2. you can go to hell says:

    man f**k them whether they like it or not zim will sell its diamonds, western countries trying to run african resources through bogus institutions..those days are gone….

    • Common Sense says:

      So you prefer it that the Chinese and Russian run African resources? Because that’s what’s happening… and you and I are getting none of the revenue, only a few ZANU-PF mafia thieves are… you are sooooo short sighted

      • Chimbwido Warvet says:

        Unless you understand the divide and rule tactics that the former slave and colonial masters have used to weaken the resolve of Africans to control their own destiny, you shall remain the hewers of wood and drawers of water for other nations for the rest of your existence. These divide and rule tactics have enabled imperialism and capitalism to thrive in a big way while the African people have remained the poorest people on earth although their continent is endowed with abundant and rich mineral resources. The bottom line is that Zimbabweans should control their own mineral resources without interference from outside forces. In addition, Zimbabweans should now participate by owning and controlling big business 32 years after independence. Of course, foreign capital and the rest of the Western world will not be pleased to see the indigenous people owning and controlling big business as this tends to take away the wealth they had taken for granted for over two hundred years. This is a war you and me should fight to regain our position in the economic sphere as active participants and not as passive participants in our country of birth. The current situation where foreigners control 99 percent of our economy is not sustainable. The black people of this country should now have the 99 percent control of their economy and ZANU PF appears to be leading towards that direction. They certainly have the foresight.

        The Chinese and Russians you refer to do not monitor our diamonds but are in Zimbabwe as equal partners in business with their Zimbabwean counterparts. They have not imposed their presence in our country but have come through an official agreement or treaty with the government of Zimbabwe. This is as it should be mate.