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Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles
diamond engagement slammed as a blow to human rights
Alex Bell, SW Radio Africa
November 13, 2013
View this article
on the SW Radio Africa website
Efforts by Europe’s
diamond leaders to engage with Zimbabwe, all to secure trading ties,
have been slammed as a serious blow to human rights, with murder,
corruption and abuses still hanging over the Zim diamond mines.
World Diamond Centre (AWDC), the main hub of Europe’s diamond
trading sector, is this week hosting a delegation of representatives
from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) and the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), in Antwerp.
follows the decision in September by the European Union (EU) to
remove targeted restrictive measures from the ZMDC, despite widespread
concern about the role the diamonds are believed to have played
alleged rigging of the July elections.
for years been pushing
for the measures to be removed in order for the AWDC to trade with
Zimbabwe, regardless of the human rights abuses and corruption reported
Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange. The re-engagement campaign
stretches as far back as 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. The crackdown, codenamed
‘Operation Hakudzokwi’ (no return), saw soldiers open
fire on unarmed diamonds panners. Witnesses reported how helicopter
gunships were used to open fire from above the panners, whose bodies
were later dumped in mass graves.
accounts of this slaughter, there has been no effort by either the
local authorities or international stakeholders to investigate what
happened at the diamond fields. Instead, there has been concerted
effort to bring Zimbabwe back into the trading ring, and this week
AWDC chief Ari Epstein told the Zim delegation that they were now
part of the trading “family.”
group Global Witness has led calls for tougher restrictions on Zimbabwe’s
diamonds, because of rights abuses and the suspected illicit use
of the diamond profits to keep ZANU PF afloat. It even quit its
place in the international diamond watchdog group, the Kimberley
Process (KP) in 2011 to protest, among other things, international
efforts to resume diamond trading with Zimbabwe.
research has indicated that ZANU PF and the military have siphoned
revenues from diamond ventures the ZMDC is involved in, in the controversial
Chiadzwa diamond fields. Last year, the campaign group published
detailed evidence indicating that revenues from ZMDC firms were
providing ‘off-budget financing’ to the security forces.
campaigner Emily Armistead told SW Radio Africa Wednesday that the
European engagement with Zimbabwe, purely to secure diamond trading
ties, was “unscrupulous.” She said the failure to investigate
the Chiadzwa deaths and the international community’s failure
to probe the situation further, means impunity has been allowed
indicates that revenues are being siphoned off by the military and
other parts of the authoritarian regime, meanwhile very little of
the revenues are being used to help fund Zimbabwe’s development.
So European companies should not be buying Zimbabwe diamonds until
they’ve done better investigations of where the money is going,”
She added: “Antwerp
and the Belgium government have roundly ignored the evidence that
links diamonds with Zimbabwe’s military and police, which
demonstrates how unscrupulous the diamond industry can be.”
diamond firms that eventually were giving clearance to mine the
diamond fields have reneged on promises to hundreds of villagers
forcibly relocated to make way for the diamond operations.
the Chinese run Anjin firm was criticised for going back on promises
to provide food relief to villagers it relocated. At the same time,
the Mbada firm has faced an angry backlash for a multimillion dollar
football sponsorship, made while the villagers it displaced are
that the situation sends a strong signal that the international
diamond sector urgently needs to reform and stop relying on the
KP diamond watchdog alone to determine the ethical standard for
a call out to the diamond sector to begin taking its responsibility
more seriously, because it has hidden behind the KP for too long,”
The KP, which
was set up to curb the trade in ‘blood diamonds’, allowed
Zimbabwe to resume diamond trading regardless of the reports of
abuses in Chiadzwa. The KP ruled that Zim diamonds were not ‘blood
diamonds’, and could therefore be allowed on the international
The body, which
has since accused of losing credibility over the Zim situation,
will be meeting in South Africa next week.
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