Monday, May 13, 2013

Zim, SA, India whip US into line

Sunday, 12 May 2013 00:00
Itai Mazire

Zimbabwe scored a major diplomatic victory at the World Diamond Council (WDC) annual meeting in Israel last week after several key stakeholders in the international diamond industry resisted fresh attempts by the United States government to keep Marange diamonds outside the formal world market.

US government representatives at the meeting were left with egg on the face after mining ministers from Zimbabwe, South Africa, India and other diamond manufacturing centres joined forces in castigating the Americans for attempting to create a “super” Kimberley Process aimed at keeping Marange diamonds outside the formal world market.

According to the latest diamond intelligence briefs released last week, Africa and India pushed the Americans into a tight corner.

“During the WDC annual meeting, producer nations, including the mining ministers of Zimbabwe, South Africa, India and other diamond manufacturing centres (representing by volume well over 90 percent of the global manufacturing capacity), lashed out at these self-appointed guardians (US) of their version of ‘social responsibility’ for walking time and again a ‘secretive’, ‘behind the back’ road without engaging in constructive dialogue,” wrote Israeli diamond analyst Chaim Even-Zohar in one of the briefs.

The attempts to usurp the powers of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in order to impose further restrictions on Zimbabwe began a month ago in Washington DC and Dubai.

The restrictions were modelled by US government conflict diamond advisor Brad Brooks-Rubin who proposed that the Organisation for Economic and Co-operation Development (OECD) should be engaged in determining the expansion of the definition of conflict diamonds.

OECD is an international economic organisation of 34 countries with an objective to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

According to information gathered by The Sunday Mail, Brad Brooks-Rubin created what diamond analysts have dubbed “the Brad Teleconferencing Group”.

Through this teleconferencing network, the US has been communicating with officials from the United Kingdom foreign affairs office, the Canadian government and several officials from the European Commission to bar the sale of Marange diamonds by engaging the OECD.

In Washington DC, the group is said to have been joined by US and Canada-based members in the diamond and jewellery industry and resolved that diamonds from Marange were not “from a responsible supply chain”.

Speaking at the WDC meeting, Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu took a swipe at the West and the OECD, labelling them as a threat to Africa.

“We call for the lifting of sanctions from our diamond fields. We believe there are people around the world who still think they control certain sovereignties in Africa,” he said.

“Let me warn them that we are not going to accept that and we will resist the recent developments by the OECD which are intended to duplicate and create a rival system to the KP exclusively for the developed economies.

“This only serves to widen the gap between the North and South and we do not allow such manoeuvres to succeed.”

His South African counterpart, Susan Shabangu, said the West and the OECD should be transparent in their dealings with other KP members.
She said even the South African government had noted the dodgy partnership between Western countries and OECD.

Ministry of Mines and Mining Development legal advisor Mr Farai Mutamangira, who also attended the meeting, said the US government and its allies were seeking alternative ways of barring the sale of Marange diamonds after realising the entire diamond community was now working with Zimbabwe.

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