3 November 2011

Zimbabwe: KPCS Green Light - Let's Maintain Our Clean Image

Photo: Denford Magora
Diamond mining in Marange fields.

FINALLY, Zimbabwe has received the green light to sell its diamonds from Marange after the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme plenary session prevailed over a minority group of Western countries and organisations that had sworn Zimbabwe would not make any money from its diamonds.

It has been a long drawn out battle with Zimbabwe's Western detractors, notably the United States, Australia, Canada and the European Union who had designated themselves the super group of the KPCS.

They had seen in diamond exports an opportunity to extend the economic sanctions that they are applying on Zimbabwe in other areas.

They also knew that in diamonds Zimbabwe can successfully mitigate the effects of the sanctions and keep its economy going.

Bringing Zimbabwe's economy to its knees meant they needed to restrict our trade in precious minerals which we are abundantly endowed with.

Zimbabwe's economy is driven by agriculture, mining, tourism and the manufacturing sector. Agriculture and manufacturing have taken a big knock but mining and tourism have proved to be resilient.

We have exclusive tourist resorts; no one can produce a Victoria Falls anywhere in the world.

We also have diamonds, platinum, gold and many other minerals, which world markets need.

Diamonds have attracted special attention because their trade is regulated by the KPCS, which Zimbabwe has been a faithful member of.

The KPCS has mutually agreed rules on how the mining and trade in diamonds should be conducted. All Zimbabwe needed to do was to stick to these rules and expose its enemies.

The case against Zimbabwe was always going to crumble sooner or later because it had no basis.

The allegations of human rights violations in the Marange area had no substance and Zimbabwe had worked closely with the KPCS monitor to address the security concerns.

Once the detractors could not build a solid case around their claim that Zimbabwe was attempting to sell blood diamonds they no longer had any legal basis to stop the exports.

But they had to search high and low to find something to pin Zimbabwe on. In the end reason prevailed; the truth won. There are many lessons to learn from this battle to sell our diamonds. First and foremost, the truth will always prevail.

Second, standing up to bullies fearlessly will pay off in the end as long as the truth is the basis of one's resistance.

Third, Zimbabwe played according to rules of the game. It humbled itself before the KPCS, co-operated with the monitor and opened its operations to scrutiny by its peers.

And fourth, Zimbabwe has agreed to continue to be monitored and has agreed that KP civil society coalition representatives in Zimbabwe should have access to the Marange area to allow continued reporting on KPCS implementation.

Transparency is important.

We congratulate Mines and Minging Development Minister Obert Mpofu and his team for a resolute and disciplined fight to have unhindered sales of our diamonds.

Honour is due to the African and Asian friends that consistently defended Zimbabwe's position. Those Zimbabwean civic bodies that had teamed up with the West to stop the export of diamonds should feel ashamed.

Isn't it strange that at most internal forums Zimbabwe would be the only country where the civic bodies sat with the Americans and Canadians in opposition, instead of sitting with their Government in support of diamond exports?

They still can redeem themselves by henceforth working with the Government of Zimbabwe and those companies granted licenses to mine diamonds to ensure that the diamond industry is kept clean and professional.

The onus is now on Zimbabweans to ensure that grounds are not created for a further challenge on the export of diamonds.

We believe that as long as we are transparent about the way we are doing things and orderliness is maintained, those seeking to stop the exports will not find a foothold.

The victory comes at the right time and will prove to be an inspiration to the legal team that is set to leave for Europe any time soon to mount a legal challenge against the EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.

At least we now know that there are some wars that are better fought by demanding our rights in international bodies.

Yes the challenges are expensive but no cent should be spared in defence of our right to exercise dominion over our natural resources.

Now that diamond sales have been freed, Zimbabweans look forward to seeing the money from the sales improving the economy and spreading to as many people as possible.

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