via ZANU PF involved in undermining civil society diamond fight | SW Radio Africa by Alex Bell December 2, 2013
Efforts by civil society groups to push a human rights agenda at the international diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), are being undermined by some of the key beneficiaries of the sector, including ZANU PF.
The KP’s civil society wing have been fighting a drawn out battle to pressure the monitoring group to reform, in order to better fight diamond trade-linked human rights abuses.
The most recent plenary session of the KP again failed to take these reforms on board, with the views expressed by the civil society members of the body instead being criticised as “malicious.” That meeting was held in South Africa, whose rotating chairmanship will soon be handed over to China.
At that meeting, the representative of the Civil Society Coalition, Shamiso Mtisi, had strong words for South Africa and other KP member states for their slow pace of reform. He again voiced calls for the KP to start taking stern measures against countries where human rights abuses and illicit sales of diamonds are taking place, as in Zimbabwe.
“It is high time (the) KP makes mandatory the control and licensing of diamond mines, offers effective security and gives licenses to artisanal miners if needed,” he said.
Mtisi also criticised the body for certifying Zimbabwe’s compliance with its diamond sale benchmarks, while ignoring the lack of transparency and accountability in the extraction and sale of diamonds in Zimbabwe.
ZANU PF member Tafadzwa Musarara, who heads the party’s aligned Resources Exploitation Watch, then hit back at Mtisi in an opinion piece published by the Daily News newspaper. Musarara wrote that Mtisi’s comments were “malicious, contemptuous and riddled with falsehoods.”
Musarara used the piece to laud the newly appointed Zim mines minister Walter Chidhakwa as “a shark” who faced the civil society “attack” with alleged “dignity.” Musarara wrote that “Chidhakwa succeeded in ensuring that the Civil Society Coalition sponsored reforms are thwarted by successfully mobilising African and Asian countries to vote against the motion.”
The KP was originally formed with the narrow mandate to prevent the trade in diamonds whose profits help fund terror, bloodshed and civil war. Civil society has been urging a reform of the body to include a human rights focus.
This would, according to the Civil Society Coalition, help end diamond mining linked abuses. Alan Martin, from the Partnership African Canada group, which is also part of the civil society wing of the KP, said that this reform agenda is critical for the KP to remain relevant.
“The KP is still stymied by a need for consensus on its decision making. If they continue to deny the need to reform, it gives credence to beliefs that they are no longer relevant” Martin told SW Radio Africa.
He explained that, although slow, there is beginning to be an acknowledgment that change is necessary and not merely a knee-jerk, polticised reaction to the Zimbabwe diamond situation. He dismissed the comments by Musarara, saying those attitudes do not reflect what is happening in the KP.
“These government NGO groups, like Resources Exploitation Watch, are always going to have these opinions. But they are not relevant because they’re absent from the process. They’re not at the table. So they are welcome to their opinion, but they really have no basis,” Martin said.