Friday, May 18, 2012

(SUNDAY MAIL ZW) Dog eat dog over Zimbabwe gems

Dog eat dog over Zimbabwe gems
Saturday, 12 May 2012 21:12
Mr Farai Maguwu
Sunday Mail Reporter

Western-funded organisations that are campaigning against Zimbabwe’s diamond sector are failing to find common ground ahead of a crucial Kimberley Process Certification Scheme meeting scheduled for the United States next month, it has emerged.

The Sunday Mail can exclusively reveal that Mr Alan Martin, the research director of an anti-Zimbabwe lobby, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), told a two-day workshop in Vumba on May 9 and 10 that the “human rights violations” argument was likely to flop this time around because the governments of Canada and Belgium have now conceded that the absence of conflict in Zimbabwe has made it tough to sustain the “blood diamonds” allegations.

Mr Martin said Canada and Belgium would favour a new approach centred on the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s diamond sector. The lifting of sanctions on the State-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe would serve two purposes: enable Western nations to place Zimbabwe’s diamond production and revenue figures in the public domain for regime-change purposes, as well as give Western diamond cartels enough breathing space to deal with the glut of Zimbabwean gemstones which has sent prices tumbling on the international market.

However, Mr Farai Maguwu, a leading Western-aligned campaigner who heads the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), did not agree with Mr Martin’s recommended strategy, saying he saw no reason to keep quiet on “human rights violations”.
“A lot was discussed in that closed-door meeting. Alan Martin of Partnership Africa Canada announced a doubling in the funding of civil society groups in Zimbabwe, but he gave them a condition: they would only get the money if they succeed in crafting and implementing strategies that will restrict the flow of Zimbabwe’s diamonds into the international market,” said a reliable source.

“Martin said the governments of Canada, Belgium and other Western nations, possibly including Australia, had realised the folly of continuing to recycle allegations of human rights violations in Chiadzwa.

“Canada and Belgium have said you can’t have blood diamonds in the absence of conflict. There’s no conflict in Zimbabwe,” added the source. As the anti-Zimbabwe lobby gets more disjointed, Mr Maguwu has vowed to continue talking about “human rights violations” in Chiadzwa.

In total disregard of Mr Martin’s recommendation, Mr Maguwu will present a speech at the Rapaport Free Trade Conference in Las Vegas, US, on June 3, where he will continue accusing the Government of Zimbabwe of using the army and the police in perpetrating gross violations of human rights. Rapaport Network last year banned its members from buying Zimbabwean diamonds.

“Maguwu is not giving up. He says he has photographs of people he claims were bitten by dogs and another which he says is of a person who was shot through the eye in the Chiadzwa diamond fields this year,” said a source. Speaking at the Vumba workshop, Mr Maguwu tried to convince the gathering that human rights abuses were rife in Marange but was exposed when members of the Chiadzwa community who were present at the meeting challenged him to provide proof of the cases. He then said he was referring to unnamed illegal panners.

The Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Dr Obert Mpofu, yesterday told The Sunday Mail that the non-governmental organisations are now divided because their agenda is illegitimate. “They are pursuing a political agenda bent on regime change, but because they have invested so much in this campaign they will try every trick in the book to peddle lies against Zimbabwe,” he said.

Dr Mpofu said the African Diamond Producers’ Association (ADPA), a caucus within the Kimberley Process grouping, has vowed to resist “clandestine manoeuvres” by some Western governments to demonise Zimbabwe’s diamond sector.

“ADPA will resist all these moves. We know, for instance, that some Western members want to push for the amendment of the KP constitution to re-define blood diamonds so that they include arguments about human rights. ADPA will shoot down all these attempts,” said the minister.

Organisations that were represented at the Vumba workshop are the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (Zela), Centre for Research Development (CRD), National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango), Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and members of the Chiadzwa Community Development Trust (CCDT).

Crisis Coalition and Nango refused to immediately endorse Mr Martin’s new approach, saying they needed to consult their structures before changing strategy.

The NGOs are re-grouping in Harare this week on Tuesday for a meeting under the banner of Publish What You Pay coalition, as they fine-tune their disjointed strategy ahead of next month’s Kimberley Process Inter-sessional meeting which will have far-reaching implications for the future of Zimbabwe’s diamond mining.

The civil society groupings are planning to rope in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy through a jointly organised workshop funded by the German

Agency for International Co-operation (GIZ) and Action Aid Netherlands set for May 17 at Caribbea Bay Resort in Kariba as they continue to seek legitimacy for reports to be presented at the Kimberly Process meeting in Washington DC.



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