opinionBy Gerry Jackson
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki was the keynote speaker on Monday at the opening day of Zimbabwe's diamond conference at Victoria Falls.
He was invited by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu in yet another ZANU PF attempt to give legitimacy to the diamond process in the country.
It was of course Thabo Mbeki who was the chief negotiator between the MDC and ZANU PF after the violent 2008 elections, which ZANU PF had lost. It was Mbeki who persuade the MDC to 'share' power, which at the time was described by Morgan Tsvangirai as: "That is not power sharing, it is power grabbing."
There were many critics who said Mbeki was not helping to create a government of national unity, but was in fact helping ZANU PF to hold on to power and, in his speech at the diamond conference, Mbeki came out very clearly on the side of ZANU PF.
He spent the first half of his speech making excuses for ZANU PF's disastrous land reform program and blaming the west for the problems it created.
He said he had come to Zimbabwe in 2000 as part of a SADC delegation, to discuss the occupation of white owned farms by war vets. He said they failed to get the war vets to withdraw from the farms, but that was the fault of the west.
Mbeki added: 'We did not get the funding commitments to the programmes that were agreed at the 1998 International Conference on the Zimbabwe Land Question. We failed to convince the world powers to honour the solemn commitments they had made, including their funding of the Zimbabwe land reform, and therefore the related creation of the conditions to end the occupation of the white-owned farms."
He went on to say that the West had promised to compensate white farmers for the land they would lose.
But, this is not true.
At the 1998 land conference Western nations assured Zimbabwe that they would in fact help fund land reform, if the rule of law was followed and it was based on a willing seller, willing buyer.
These terms were rejected by ZANU PF.
In his speech Mbeki finally got around to the diamond question and suggested that the Kimberley Process (which is an attempt to stamp out conflict diamonds) was being hijacked by those who wanted to undermine Zimbabwe's diamond industry and enforce regime change.
As Thabo Mbeki was standing on a platform defending ZANU PF for its land reform and its diamond industry, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) released a comprehensive report that showed that at least $2 Billion had been plundered in the past few years, from the Marange diamond fields.
Alan Martin of PAC said they were always criticized for pointing out 'inconvenient truths.' He added that the KP is a regulatory system for diamond trading companies and referring to Zimbabwe he said: "No other country in the KP ever had the level of smuggling that you see in Marange right now."