KP slammed for ‘silence’ over Zim diamond trade

The international diamond trade watchdog has been slammed for its silence on Zimbabwe’s local trade, which a leading human rights group has warned could be financing ZANU PF violence.

UK based Global Witness this week said the Kimberley Process (KP) has been silent on key issues affecting Zimbabwe’s diamond trade, most importantly the involvement of senior military and police officials. Global Witness also said the KP silence has extended to the dubious flow of diamond revenues in Zimbabwe, amid warnings that these revenues could finance a ZANU PF pre-election violence campaign.

Global Witness used to be a civil society member of the KP until late last year, when the KP cleared Zimbabwe to sell diamonds from the controversial Chiadzwa alluvial fields. That decision has been widely criticised because of ongoing concerns around human rights abuses and smuggling operations at Chiadzwa.

The KP decision has this week faced even more condemnation after Global Witness revealed how top military and police officials in Zimbabwe are listed as ‘directors’ in one of the firms mining at Chiadzwa. The report, Diamonds: A Good Deal for Zimbabwe? was released on Tuesday and names several officials with known ZANU PF loyalties.

This includes; Martin Rushwaya, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defense, Oliver Chibage and Nonkosi M. Ncube, both police commissioners and Munyaradzi Machacha, a ZANU PF director of publications and former ZBC member. Also listed as non executive board members are, Morris Masunungure, a former army officer and Romeo Daniel Mutsvunguma, a retired army Colonel in the Zimbabwe Defence Force.

The Global Witness report goes on to reveal that 25% the Mbada mining firm has been given to a company linked with Robert Mhlanga, a known ally and former employee of Robert Mugabe’s. Mhlanga was allegedly appointed by Mugabe to head the company, which is said to have silent Chinese military partners. In 2010, it was alleged by the UK Daily Mail that the Mbada firm was the public face of a diamonds-for-arms deal between Zimbabwe and China, with China in effect funding Mugabe’s war chest.

The Global Witness report says that Mbada’s ownership details are far more ‘opaque’ that Anjin’s, with a ‘complex structure’. The report adds that Mbada’s associated companies are located in ‘secrecy jurisdictions’ or tax havens including Mauritius, Hong Kong, British Virgin Islands and Dubai.

Global Witness said that the KP’s silence on these ownership details, and its silence on where the revenues of the diamonds sales are going, supports the belief that the KP “is not for purpose.”

“In Zimbabwe the concern is no longer just smuggling and violent attacks on diamond panners but also the risk that diamond revenues may be used to finance violence committed by state security forces in the run up to an election in 2012 or 2013,” Global Witness said in its report, adding that it believes “that consumers should not buy diamonds originating from the (Chiadzwa) mines until they can be certain they will not fund human rights abuses.”

Poltiical analyst Clifford Mashiri told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that the KP has a serious case to answer now, saying that the KP’s shortcomings have been totally exposed in the Global Witness report.

“The KP is in the most awkward of situations now and their credibility has never been so low,” Mashiri said.

Meanwhile, the Mines Ministry has reportedly barred Global Witness from touring Chiadzwa, after they boycotted a KP session last year. The group, together with other civil society organizations, boycotted the session over the KP’s failings to prevent the trade in blood diamonds.

Mines Minister Obert Mpofu is now using this action as an excuse to bar civil society from touring the controversial area. He told the ZBC that civic society demonstrated “their unwillingness to cooperate with the rest of the KP family.”

Mashiri meanwhile said this decision is “an act of vindictiveness over the report by Global Witness.” – SW Radio Africa

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