Zimbabwe diamond resources are some of the largest in the world. Imperialism has attempted to prevent the Southern African state from trading its most lucrative resource on the world market., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
US targets army in diamond fight
Saturday, 08 September 2012 21:11
Sunday Mail Reporters
The United States government has stepped up efforts to have Zimbabwe’s diamonds placed under severe sanctions by seeking to expand the influence of the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) to the security forces of individual member countries.
The ploy, contained in proposed amendments to the definition of conflict diamonds, comes in the wake of concerted efforts by the MDC-T to push for so-called security sector reforms in Zimbabwe.
Internationally acclaimed diamond industry analyst Mr Chaim-Evan Zohar recently raised the red flag over the US plot, highlighting that the proposed measures were curiously aimed at Zimbabwe.
In a report released last week, Mr Zohar, who is based in Israel, noted that the proposed alterations will result in “dramatic changes in the KPCS” as they will trample on the sovereignty of independent states.
“Reading between the lines, the new text will dramatically change the nature of the Kimberly process . . . This means the KPCS will seek to have an influence on the military and the police forces of individual states.
“The new definition mandates considerable involvement of the KPCS in the internal affairs of member countries. This is a change from the present, where the sovereignty of the countries is unassailable.
Actions can be taken not only against the rebels, but also against states’ military and police forces.”
Mr Zohar said the new plot was specifically targeted at Zimbabwe contrary to US claims that the moves are beneficial to the world diamond industry.
He added that if the new measures are instituted, Zimbabwe will be pressed to sell its gems.
“With Zimbabwe, the KPCS had already created a precedent: a country can be compliant and issue KPCS certificates. However, diamonds from certain mining areas may be viewed as ‘conflict diamonds’ and these diamonds could not be traded.
“This will now become a permanent feature in any country where conflict diamonds are identified. Specific regions within a country would not be entitled to certification. This represents a major departure from present practices.”
Mr Zohar said it was astonishing that the US had proposed for the KPCS to seek to determine human rights violations, yet it does not have the capacity and mandate to do so.
“The KPCS will get involved in the determination of human rights violation or of violence. With all due respect, the KPCS participants do not possess the capacity, the skills, and the tools to make such determination. There are hundreds of international organisations which are far more qualified to do so.
“The KPCS doesn’t have expertise in human rights; it doesn’t have the tools to determine what constitutes violence and what doesn’t.
When dozens of illegal diggers trying to penetrate (trespass) a private mining concession are bitten by guard dogs, is that violence?” he said.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu said Mr Zohar’s report, which was endorsed by most members of the KPCS, had exposed the US and KPCS chair Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, an American national.
He said the report sounded the alarm bells for KPCS member states to dismiss the proposed amendments which “are outrageously off the mark”.
“We have made our point that it is an attempt to change the rules that have worked very well for a long time. Other members of the KPCS have ruled that they are satisfied with 99 percent of the current rules and there is no need to change anything.
“Mr Zohar’s report is very correct and it has been endorsed by most member states because the US wants to sneak in new things that are irrelevant so as to punish Zimbabwe.
“They are campaigning desperately before the next KPCS meeting in December,” said Dr Mpofu.