The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Ambush On Zim Escalates Tensions

Washington DC — A CRUDELY-EXECUTED ambush on Zimbabwe at the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme plenary by European Union-funded non-governmental organisations has escalated tensions here.

Ms Marie Muller, who works for an EU-sponsored organisation, sparked outrage when she told the plenary that the Government of Zimbabwe was intimidating and even threatening the lives of activists in the diamond industry.

Shocked by the audacity of the attacks on the Marange mining operations and fearing that the plenary could degenerate to a farce, the outgoing US chair of the KP, Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, swiftly apologised to Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu and the rest of the Zimbabwe delegation.

Ms Muller, who works as a researcher for the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), alleged that "open threats" were made against a civil society activist by Government officials following the Zimbabwe Diamond Conference which was held in Victoria Falls from November 12 to 13.

She rubbished claims that Marange was "a KP success story" after attaining full certification to export diamonds.

"Some people have called Marange a KP success. But if Marange were a true success, the re-definition of conflict diamonds would not be an issue at all," said Ms Muller.

Ambassador Milovanovic quickly sought to douse the flames by castigating Ms Muller for making allegations about issues "that are beyond the KP".

The BICC is an EU-sponsored organisation established in 1994 and headquartered in Bonn, Germany.

The focus of its work is "the conversion of military facilities and equipment to civilian purposes", and this entails "the re-allocation of military expenditures, restructuring of the defence industry, closure of military bases, and demobilisation".

Western-funded NGOs have in recent years accused Zimbabwe of militarising the Marange diamond operations.

BICC's latest propaganda onslaught is meant to peddle the allegation at the international level.

The same EU, which imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, is funding a propaganda war against the nation in a bid to scuttle diamond exports, an economic lifeline seen as a potential sanctions buster.

BICC has in the past been fingered for fanning diamond-related propaganda wars in Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire.

Minister Mpofu described the behaviour of Western-funded NGOs as unacceptable.

Western-funded NGOs are intensifying their attacks on Zimbabwe in the hope that the KPCS plenary would revoke the certification of Marange exports.

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