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Be on the right side of history: AAG tells KP
03/11/2010 00:00:00
by Supa Mandiwanbzira & Tafadzwa Musarara
 
 
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The certification of diamonds from Marange has dominated a four-day meeting of the 40-nation Kimberley Process Certification Scheme which opened in Jerusalem, Israel, on Monday. The Affirmative Action Group chairman Supa Mandiwanzira and the organisation's secretary general Tafadzwa Musarara circulated the document below urging diamond-producing countries to give Zimbabwe the greenlight to freely sell its diamonds to aid its economic recovery:

ZIMBABWE is currently reeling under economic hardship caused by the direct and indirect illegal economic sanctions imposed by the USA, Australia, Canada and European Union.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have died due to rather curable diseases, many others forced to leave their families in search of jobs in the regional and overseas.

Zimbabwe which used to have the second biggest GDP in the region is now ranked second worst because of the illegal economic sanctions. In fact, Zimbabwe’s GDP stands at less that 5% of the General Motors USA annual turnover.

The middle class has disappeared as more than 90% of workers earn less than US$200 per month. Foreign aid continues to be cut leaving many Zimbabweans struggling in dire poverty. Unemployment is extremely high as local campanies fail to capitalise because foreign lines of credit have been cut because of the sanctions regime. Educational institutions like universities have been denied access to technology and materials because of the sanctions.

With the discovery and commercial exploitation of the Marange diamonds, millions of ordinary Zimbabweans have pinned their hopes for a better future on the  Marange resource.Civil servants are hoping for better salaries, school children want more text books in their schools and everyone want to see a more functional health delivery system where basic pain killers can be available in all clinics.

Today in Zimbabwe, diamonds are now what oil means to Saudi Arabia.

The AAG fully supports that the rough diamond mining in Marange be accorded the Kimberley Process Certification. Further, it is important that our diamond industry remains a key player in the KP to ensure that the world curbs the illicit trading of “blood” diamonds.

Zimbabwe, as a founder member of the KPCS, has already met the minimum KPCS requirement through the exports of diamonds by Murowa Mine, River Ranch and the supervised exports of Marange diamonds as confrimed in the summarry report by the Review Mission Chairman and KP monitor Mr Abbey Chikane.



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The AAG notes with satisfaction that Zimbabwe has stayed the path of the Kimberley Process despite unmitigated frustration and political chicanery by the same KP members who have imposed unilateral economic sanctions on our country. This level of restraint by the Zimbabwe Government must be acknowledged and not  be misconstrued for weakness in our view.

We urge all members of the KP to stand up to the politicisation of an organisation whose ideals the AAG and the people of Zimbabwe cherish. Members of KP must stand up to the arrogance of  minority member countries who want to mix their political objectives in Zimbabwe with the diamond business. KP was established to stop diamonds aiding politics and rebel regime change and similarly diamonds must not be used as a tool for western regime change in Zimbabwe.

Illegal Economic Sanctions Explained

The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act 2001 empowers the US to use its voting rights and influence (as the main donor) in multilateral lending agencies, such as the IMF, World Bank, and the African Development Bank to veto any applications by Zimbabwe for finance, credit facilities, loan rescheduling, and international debt cancellation.

We are, therefore, not surprised that USA is not supporting the restoration of Zimbabwe diamond export status.

EU sanctions crafted to target certain individuals in Zimbabwe in terms of travel restrictions and economic activities have created reputational risk for the entire country and consequently affecting ordinary Zimbabweans. It is apparent that if Zimbabwe realises its full economic benefit, these sanctions, will be rendered ineffective.

At the recent Mines To Market International Diamond Conference in Mumbai, India, two European banks – ABN Amro and the Antwerp Diamond Bank -- said they would not fund any trading activity on Zimbabwe diamonds because of EU sanctions.

AAG Expectations

The St Petersburg KPCS 2010 confirmed that Zimbabwe had met all the KPCS minimum requirements as reported by the appointed monitor. In the main, the report states that the so-called human rights abuses and violence in Marange had stopped, full KPCS security measures in place and de-militarisation of the area completed.

With confidence, we can also endorse that diamond mining in Marange conform to KPCS standards.
In view of the aforegoing, we expect the KPCS November 2010 plenary to;
  1. Allow unconditional exports of Marange diamonds including the stockpile.
  2. Restore Zimbabwe’s full export status just like any other KP member country.

If the above is not achieved in this plenary, AAG will push the government of Zimbabwe to to proceed with open sales of all diamonds including the stockpile. As we understand it, the country is not short of buyers who do not care about KP certification.

The AAG will encourage all mining companies to step up  production so they can create more jobs and economic activity downstream. (It must be noted that the mining companies in Marange have made huge investments to produce diamonds for sale and not for stock piling).

In light of the above, it is important that this KP Plenary acts responsibly and allow Zimbabwe unconditional exports. This Jerusalem Pleanary could deliver the death knell to KPCS or strengthen its status.

You can make or break the diamond industry with Zimbabwe. Be on the right side of history and allow Zimbabwe its  full rights over its natural resources. The people of Zimbabwe can not wait any longer.


 
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