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Zim blasts 'jealous howling' over Marange
17/12/2010 00:00:00
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
 
We won't be cowed ... Chitsaka Chipaziwa
 
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ZIMBABWE’S permanent representative to the United Nations on Thursday blasted what he described as “the howling of the jealous” over Marange diamonds and pooh-poohed claims that only the political elite were benefiting from the gems.

Chitsaka Chipaziwa was reacting to criticism from the US and Canadian representatives during debate on a UN resolution backing the Kimberly Process (KP), an industry watchdog created to prevent trade in so-called “blood diamonds”.

The KP maintains a ban on trade in diamonds extracted from Marange district in eastern Zimbabwe over claims the country is still to satisfy compliance issues.

During Thursday’s General Assembly debate, Canada’s UN representative Gilles Rivard expressed concern over what he described as Zimbabwe’s “piecemeal” implementation of the joint KP work-plan agreed to at a plenary held in 2009 plenary.

He also slammed Zimbabwe’s “lack of respect for civil society observers” adding they must be allowed to work without fear of reprisal.

Gregory Nickels of the US said his country had serious concerns about Zimbabwe’s lack of progress in “establishing minimum requirements in the Marange area, the violence around that area and the Government’s willingness to cooperate with the Kimberley Process”.

But Chipaziwa said he was “shocked and dismayed” by the allegations.

He countered that Western criticism of Zimbabwe on Marange was inspired by anger over their failure to gain control of the rich diamond discovery.

Chipaziwa also dismissed allegations of rights abuses in the district.

He said the Marange gems were not the only diamond fields in the country but the area was being singled out because “black Zimbabweans controlled (it)”.

“Indeed, those who point fingers at Zimbabwe have much to run away from. We in Zimbabwe will address such matters without resorting to vengeance,” he said.

“Latter day colonialists must wake up; the beautiful train laden with glorious stones is leaving without you. Choo, choo, choo.”

Chipaziwa also angrily dismissed allegations of diamond smuggling in Marange.

He claimed those complaining about “alleged smuggling were, actually, pitching tents in Zimbabwe and then chartering lavishly appointed jets and flying off to sell those very diamonds in other countries”.



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The ambassador also rejected claims that the Marange diamonds were not being used for the benefit of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“Who are you to make such calls? Our diamonds are indeed for our own people,” he said.

The Marange alluvial fields are said to be among the richest in the world with government officials claiming they could earn the country up to US$2 billion a year.

However the gems continue to be dogged by controversy over allegations of rights abuses.

The Zimbabwe government rejects the claims and has vowed to defy a KP ban on trading in the stones.


 
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