via Maguwu lambasts KP, govt over Marange diamonds | The Zimbabwean by Kenneth Matimaire 13.11.13
Farai Maguwu has lambasted the Kimberly Process for assisting the Zimbabwean government to deceive the international community that the Marange diamonds are conflict free.
The executive director of the Centre for National Resources Development told a Transparency International seminar last week that the KP was a “mere window dressing” approach to legitimise Europe’s diamond dealings transition from African rebel movements to African governments.
He said the world diamond governing body was formed after much bloodshed revolving around conflict diamonds in various parts of Africa. The most diamond conflict-related casualties were recorded in Angola, the DRC, West Africa, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
In order to cleanse itself from its bartered image of spilling African blood to get diamonds, Western governments in partnership with certain African countries resolved to come together and form a body where governments, civil society and business governed diamond operations. This led to the formation of the KP in 2003.
But Maguwu said the organisation’s guidelines had a lot of loopholes. It’s definition of conflict diamonds includes any precious gems controlled and sold by rebel movements to overthrow legitimate governments. “This indirectly means that if a legitimate government kills its people because of diamonds, those diamonds are conflict free,” he said.
Maguwu went on to admit having fallen victim to KP’s deceitfulness when it intervened in the Chiadzwa diamond conflict following the government’s Operation No Return, which resulted in the deaths of many civilians.
The World Diamond Council had earlier called for a clampdown on smuggling of diamonds from Zimbabwe. In December 2008, the KP Process Civil Society Coalition, representing non-governmental organisations, called for Zimbabwe’s suspension in light of violence used by the government to take control of the Chiadzwa diamond fields. Surprisingly, on November 5, 2009, KP conducted its annual meeting in Namibia and decided against the suspension of Zimbabwe.
Instead, it recommended and then implemented, with the compliance of the Zimbabwean government, a 12-month working plan to monitor diamonds from the Marange fields.
Maguwu said the Marange diamonds remain conflict ridden as the government, with the aid of a few selected partners, continues to exploit the gems while the Chiadzwa community remains impoverished.
“If you and I are seen holding a small piece of a diamond, we will rot in jail. But here we have our brothers and sisters in Marange holding AK 47 rifles guarding the Chinese, who are stealing diamonds with the assistance of the State.
“But the moment the government knew that Zimbabweans were benefiting from their diamonds, they came and shot their own people. And they called their Chinese brothers from the East to come into the Kingdom and enjoy. And you want to understand why it is illegal for a Zimbabwean to hold a diamond. Because of a colonial mentality – nothing has changed. We gained independence but we don’t get economic and mental independence,” he said.
Maguwu said it was depressing that 33 years after independence, Zimbabwe was still using the Minerals Law implemented by the Rhodesian government in 1961. “This was used by the colonial masters to benefit a few elite and the Zimbabwe government has adopted the same template and ideology. The biggest entry point of corruption is contracts. When these guys come to negotiate contracts they don’t just bring the chairman from the Chinese communist party. They bring officials from their Reserve Bank, lawyers, engineers, officials from their ministry of mines, it’s a team.
“But when we negotiate our own contracts, we have the minister and his girlfriend. Our contracts are negotiated in darkness. We have wonderful lawyers – why are they not invited to negotiate a mining deal in the best interests of the country?” he said.
“But you find that if the minister pockets his $5m, to him he has entered Heaven. But the country is going to lose $50 billion. This summarises the Marange saga, this is why the entire nation is bleeding over the Marange diamonds.”
Former deputy minister of Indigenisation Tongai Matutu has accused the ruling party of looting the gems. “There is an element of looting especially from Zanu (PF). They are looting diamonds and funds from Chiadzwa. Everything there was done in secrecy and they want to protect their interests. It’s not a partnership between foreign investors and the government but rather, Zanu (PF) and investors of their choice,” said Matutu.
Several Zanu (PF) politicians have been accused of extorting funds from diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa in a report compiled by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, which led to the suspension of five Manicaland provincial executive members – chairman Mike Madiro, provincial youth chairman Tawanda Mukodza, youth secretary for security Admire Mahachi, youth secretary for information and publicity Masimba Kangai and former District Coordinating Committee chairman for Mutare Urban Clever Muparutsa – who allegedly siphoned $700,000 from the diamond firms.
Zanu (PF) secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa recently revealed that there is a new report implicating party stalwarts from the women’s league alleged to have received $75,000 each.
Police investigations into the $6 million scandal involving the former board chairman of the Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Company, Godwills Masimirembwa, are shrouded in secrecy. Allegations that some top police officials are involved in the scandal could hamper the finalisation of the matter.
Newman Chiadzwa, who successfully applied against a five-year jail term after he was arrested in possession of 8,7kilograms of diamonds, is still to repossess them, despite having a High Court order that he be paid the value of his diamonds in cash by the state, after the diamonds could not be accounted for.