By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
10 April 2014
The decision by Europe to refuse Grace Mugabe a visa so she could travel to Brussels for the EU-AU summit held recently has invited her husband’s ire.
Speaking Wednesday while on a visit to Dubai, where Zimbabwe has decided to sell its diamonds, President Robert Mugabe praised the owners of the Dubai Diamond Exchange whom he claimed are sympathetic to Zimbabwe.
“Here we have the same Third World people with sympathies for us. You do not have the evil heart of Europe,” the State-run Herald quoted Mugabe as saying.
Mugabe has in the past been accused of un-presidential behaviour for using hate speech against perceived opponents or enemies.
Mugabe, who was in Dubai together with Grace, went on to accuse the European Union of trying to separate him from his wife and said he couldn’t have attended the Summit without her.
In an indirect address to the Brussels-based Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), which lobbied for the lifting of the restrictive measures so that ZANU PF could sell the country’s diamonds, Mugabe said the body should have fought for Grace’s travel.
Belgium for years pushed for the targeted sanctions to be removed so that the AWDC could trade with Zimbabwe, regardless of the human rights abuses and corruption reported at the country’s Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.
Lobbying started in 2010, when a delegation from the AWDC toured the Zim mining operations and gave a glowing appraisal of the situation.
That visit came barely two years after an estimated 200 diamonds panners were murdered in late 2008, following the government launch of a military led crackdown at the Chiadzwa alluvial fields.
Ordinary Zimbabweans have not benefitted from the discovery of diamonds in the country, estimated to be the world’s fourth largest reserves.
Zimbabwe reportedly earned $29.3 million from its latest diamond sale in Dubai, but very little of this, if any at all, is likely to flow into national coffers.
There are suggestions that Mugabe is moving to eliminate other firms involved in diamond mining in the Chiadzwa fields, so that a company linked to him will be the sole operator.