Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Imperialist States Seek to Block Zimbabwe Diamond Trade Amid New Sanctions Bid by the U.S.

Imperialist States Seek to Block Zimbabwe Diamond Trade Amid New Sanctions Bid by the U.S.

African governments support nation’s ability to market gems on its own terms

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Western imperialist states are continuing their efforts to undermine the sovereignty of the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe. The most egregious campaign recently has been the attempts to block the country from marketing its diamonds on the international market.

Utilizing the so-called Kimberley Process (KP), the controllers of the international diamond trade claim that they are seeking to prevent the trafficking in gems by rebel armies, criminal elements and rogue states. Yet the criteria utilized to determine whose diamonds are given the stamp of approval for international marketing is heavily influenced by the ruling class interests in Europe and the United States.

Several Western governments are opposing Zimbabwe while the corporate media is stoking the flames of suspicion around the intentions of President Robert Mugabe and the ruling ZANU-PF party. Even though Mugabe and ZANU-PF—who fought for and won the national liberation of the country—have entered into a coalition with the Western-backed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), the destabilization campaign against the leadership of the national democratic revolution continues unabated.

A recent article in Newsweek magazine reported that “The Kimberley Process, a body that tries to ensure diamonds do not fund war or human rights abuses, is meeting in Israel this week to decide whether Zimbabwe’s diamonds should be allowed to trade on the world market.” (Newsweek, June 22) The New York Times wrote on June 24 that “Zimbabwe’s military has been accused of violently seizing control of the Marange fields in the eastern part of the country where the diamonds were mined and organizing smuggling operations there, prompting intense debate over giving it an international stamp of approval.” (New York Times, June 24)

These corporate media reports ignore the right of Zimbabwe to control the mineral wealth of its national territory. With a history of attacks on the independence of the Zimbabwean state over a decade or more, it is not surprising that the military is guarding the diamond mines considering the vast deposits of gems found in the area.

The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail reported on June 27 that “An astonishing revelation has emerged from Israel: Zimbabwe has the potential to become a producer of 25 percent of the global diamonds supply in terms of value within just a few years. In practical terms, this means one in every four diamonds under the sun will come from Zimbabwe. “(Sunday Mail, June 27)

According to Israeli gemstone consultant Mr. Chaim Even-Zohar during the intercessory conference on the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Tel Aviv during the week of June 21, Zimbabwe is becoming a very significant source for the supply of diamonds on the global market. Newsweek described the sheer enormity of the diamond deposits, citing the New York Times, as “a freak of nature.” (Newsweek, June 22)

The debate over the control and distribution of the Zimbabwe diamonds has split largely along the lines of the international division of economic power with the African states and their allies in China, Russia and India supporting the right of the country to determine the utilization of its resources on the one hand and the Western imperialist states on the other, maintaining that outside bodies should control the supply.

Zimbabwe’s Sunday Mail pointed out that “Virtually all the members of the Kimberley Process—except Australia, Canada, the United States and the European Union—are agreed that Zimbabwe has a right to sell its diamonds.” (Sunday Mail, June 27)

This article continues that “Owing to the discredited imperialist intentions harbored by these four spoilers, there was no consensus at the Tel Aviv meeting. Discussions ended Thursday (June 24) in a stalemate over the Zimbabwe ban, despite all-night talks that broke at 5:30am and then continued for several hours later in the afternoon.”

Even the New York Times was forced to admit that “’Every time the African countries and others spoke in favor of letting Zimbabwe export, there was resounding applause,’ said one participant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations were confidential. ‘When the United States, Canada, Australia and the NGOs spoke, there was dead silence.’” (New York Times, June 24)

The Sunday Mail notes that “The people of Zimbabwe are outraged. How can this injustice continue? The same Western governments that have imposed racist sanctions on Zimbabwe are once again ganging up against our nation after discovering that the valuable stones of Marange are going to be Zimbabwe’s economic salvation.”

Zimbabwe is considering marketing its diamonds through other trading networks outside the Kimberley Process which has been thoroughly infiltrated by the imperialist states and their corporate backers. The opposition by the Western states has been supported by several non-governmental organizations that have a long history of working to undermine the sovereignty of Zimbabwe.

These groups include Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada along with Amnesty International of the UK and the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. Zimbabwe has accused the West and its cheerleaders in the NGO circuit of working towards regime-change despite the tremendous work it has done in building a unity government with the opposition.

The Kimberley Process Monitor to Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, has submitted a report that endorses the country’s right to market its diamonds internationally. The report was put to a vote with 69 Kimberley Process delegates voting in favor of Zimbabwe while only four imperialist states and regional groupings: Canada, Australia, the U.S. and the European Union taking a position against the Southern African country.

However, when the imperialists realized that they had been defeated in a majority vote, the rules were suddenly changed. The Chair of the Kimberley Process, Boaz Hirsch, then declared that there had to be total consensus on the question of Zimbabwe.

The Sunday Mail argues that “In view of the fact that the KP-appointed monitor has given Zimbabwe full marks, we have to ask the question: on what basis are the governments of Australia, Canada and the U.S. conniving to allege that Zimbabwe has ‘blood diamonds’? What objective facts are they advancing in labeling these stones ‘blood diamonds.’”

This same article continues by declaring that “No country has the power to stop Zimbabwe from selling its diamonds. As a nation, we have voluntarily subjected ourselves to KP procedures. We can, by the same token, voluntarily withdraw from the cartel.”

U.S. Pushes Legislation to Maintain Sanctions

Inside the halls of the U.S. Congress fresh efforts are underway to renew existing sanctions against Zimbabwe. The so-called Zimbabwe Renewal Act of 2010 sets out to amend the already operating Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act that created the devastating sanctions regime against a sovereign African state.

In a press release during the week of June 21, the U.S. Information Center in Zimbabwe indicated that the new legislation advances what it calls “targeted sanctions.” The bill will provide ongoing financial assistance to the MDC-T politicians and continue efforts to force the party of President Mugabe, ZANU-PF, out of the government of national unity.

The bill states that “some members of ZANU-PF” are hampering the democratic process and at the same time singles out Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the MDC-T for special praise. The press release stated that the bill “reflects strenuous debate in both the Democratic and Republican parties, influenced by the Congressional Black Caucus.” (Zimbabwe Herald, June 22)

In response to the new round of threats against Zimbabwe in the arena of the international diamond industry and the most recent legislation introduced in the U.S. Congress, the military leadership of the country has encouraged the national army to safeguard the independence of the state. Brigadier-General Chancellor Diye told the military police at a ceremony honoring the thirtieth anniversary of national independence that “As members of the defense forces and custodians of the defense of our country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we should remain focused and resolute.” (Zimbabwe Herald, June 22)

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