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Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
pushes EU to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe diamond miner
Voice of America
September 05, 2013
View this article
on the VOA News website
of the global diamond trade, is demanding that the European Union
lift sanctions on a Zimbabwean mining firm despite deep concerns
within the bloc over alleged
fraud in a July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in
Belgium's call for the removal of sanctions on the state-run Zimbabwe
Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has put it at odds with other
EU countries such as Britain which is reluctant to rush into a move
that could be seen as rewarding Mugabe.
EU states are squabbling over how to interpret an agreement by EU
foreign ministers in February to lift sanctions on ZMDC within a
month of the poll unless EU governments unanimously agreed the vote
was not “peaceful, transparent and credible.”
This was part of EU strategy of easing sanctions to try to encourage
89-year-old Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader who has ruled the former
British colony for 33 years, to hold a fair election.
Mugabe overwhelmingly won the July 31 vote but it was denounced
as a “huge fraud” by his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
The EU has expressed “serious concerns” over the alleged
However, Belgium home to the world's leading diamond trading hub
at Antwerp argues that the EU has not refused to recognize the election
and so the February agreement must be respected and sanctions on
“For us, there is an agreement,” Belgian Foreign Ministry
spokesman Hendrik van de Velde said.
He said the agreement was confirmed by diplomats from EU member
states last Friday and it was now simply a question of drawing up
a legal instrument lifting the sanctions on ZMDC, something he expected
to happen soon.
Belgium's interpretation of the debate is not shared by EU officials
who say talks are still going on about what to do.
Former colonial power Britain, which has been more critical of the
Zimbabwean elections than the EU as a whole, is reluctant to see
a rush to lift sanctions on ZMDC.
“No decision has yet been taken regarding the de-listing of
any individual or entity under the measures related to Zimbabwe,
including ZMDC. Discussions continue on the listing of ZMDC,”
a Foreign Office spokeswoman in London said.
However, unwelcome the move would be to Britain, some European diplomats
say it is inevitable the bloc will have to lift sanctions on ZMDC
in line with the February agreement.
“At the end of the day, we have to delist ZMDC,” a diplomat
from one EU country said, asking not to be named.
ZMDC operates five joint-venture mines in the rich Marange
diamond fields, producing eight million carats last year and
generating $685 million in exports, the state-owned Herald newspaper
reported earlier this year.
Belgium says lifting EU sanctions on ZMDC would increase Zimbabwe's
tax revenues by $400 million a year as well as bringing more trade
Mugabe, buoyed by broad approval from African election observers
for the vote, has rejected the Western skepticism.
Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, citing links between mining
companies, insiders in Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and Zimbabwe's pro-Mugabe
military, has alleged that state diamond revenues may have been
directly spent on securing the Mugabe re-election through intimidation
of voters and vote-rigging.
“We would be very concerned if sanctions were lifted on ZMDC
now,” Global Witness' senior campaigner on conflict resources,
Emily Armistead, told Reuters. “These sorts of allegations
need to be looked at much more carefully before the EU makes a decision.”
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