Sunday, June 27, 2010

Zimbabwe News Update: Western NGOs in Diamond Extortion; Potential Exist to Supply 25% of Market

Western NGOs in diamond extortion

By Tafadzwa Chiremba
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

TWO Western non-governmental organisations last week allegedly demanded a multi-million-dollar bribe from a top Government official in exchange for support during an international meeting convened in Israel to determine whether Zimbabwe would be allowed to trade in diamonds mined at Chiadzwa, it has emerged.

The NGOs, who are some of the stakeholders in the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KP), allegedly demanded to pocket 1 percent of money raised from the sale of the Chiadzwa diamonds in exchange for support during the crucial meeting held in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

London-based Global Witness (GW) and Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) are the two organisations said to have demanded the bribe from the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Cde Obert Mpofu, on the sidelines of the meeting.

Cde Mpofu, who led the Zimbabwe delegation at the Tel Aviv meeting, on Friday confirmed that representatives from GW and PAC approached him with the “money-for-support” proposal, which he promptly rejected as extortion.

Minister Mpofu described the extortion as criminal, adding that it was not only corrupt but also uncalled for.

“We also had an issue of NGOs that wanted 1 percent of our sales from Chiadzwa for their operations.

“They said they would lobby for the endorsement of our diamonds. But that was extortion of the highest order and we could not go by that,” said Cde Mpofu.

Minister Mpofu said Zimbabwe would go ahead with the auction of the Chiadzwa gems, saying the country had satisfied all the requirements of the KP.

GW and PAC are stakeholders in the Kimberley Process Certifi-cation Scheme, representing the civil society coalition.

Incidentally, the two organisations are at the forefront in denouncing the Chiadzwa gems, citing alleged human rights abuses.

PAC recently appealed to the KP to redefine the term “blood diamond” so as to describe gems mined at Chiadzwa.

In a report that was drafted by PAC titled “Diamonds and Clubs: The Militarised Control of Diamonds and Power In Zimbabwe”, PAC claims that there is Government-sponsored smuggling of diamonds and human rights violations at Chiadzwa.

“Blood diamonds are diamonds involved in murder, mutilation, rape or forced servitude. PAC endorses this definition and calls on the KP to adopt it at the earliest possible opportunity,” reads part of the report.
Global Witness is a lobby group that claims to investigate the exploitation of natural resources.

Global Witness’s hard stance on natural resources that could improve economies of developing countries was evident when the IMF withdrew from Cambodia in 1996 over allegations of corruption in the logging industry.

The organisation also imposed timber sanctions on Charles Taylor’s Liberia in 2003, and the precedent-setting arrest of timber baron Gus Kouwenhoven in the Netherlands in 2005.

The organisation is calling for the release of Centre for Research and Development director Farai Maguwu, who is being charged with publishing and communicating statements prejudicial to the State.

Maguwu allegedly authored and disseminated false documents claiming that police and the army were involved in human rights abuses at Chiadzwa diamond fields.

The KP monitor for Zimbabwe, Mr Abbey Chikane recently compiled a report, which said Zimbabwe had satisfied minimum Kimberley Process Certification Scheme requirements.

The report, which came after the monitor’s second fact-finding mission to the country, hailed the security systems at Mbada Diamonds and Canadile Miners, the companies conducting mining activities at Marange. The system was adjudged to be better than that obtaining at similar operations in Africa.

Mr Chikane told The Sunday Mail yesterday that the Tel Aviv meeting did not dispute that Zimbabwe had met KP specifications. He said although Australia, Canada, the US and European Union representatives complained about “human rights abuses” these could not alter the meeting’s position on the country’s compliance.

A total of 75 countries were represented at the meeting.

“As far as I am concerned, there was no country that was against the fact that Zimbabwe met minimum KP requirements,” he said.

“Human rights issues do not necessarily form minimum requirements that apply in KP monitoring.” Zimbabwe has over 4,5 million carats stockpiled by Mbada Holdings and Canadile Miners.


Zim diamonds will bust sanctions

An astonishing revelation has emerged from Israel: Zimbabwe has the potential to become a producer of 25 percent of the global diamond 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. To patriotic Zimbabweans, this has to be the best cause for celebration since April 18 1980.

The stupendous scale of Zimbabwe’s diamond deposits was confirmed by Israeli gemstone consultant Mr Chaim Even-Zohar during an intercessory meeting of the Kimberley Process Certifi-cation Scheme (KP) in Tel Aviv last week.

Mr Even-Zohar’s message to the world was simple and straightforward: Zimbabwe is becoming a vitally important player in the diamond business, therefore the KP must make every effort to ensure that the country remains a member of this certification scheme.

Virtually all the members of the KP — except Australia, Canada, the United States and the European Union — are agreed that Zimbabwe has a right to sell its diamonds.

Owing to the discredited imperialist intentions harboured by these four spoilers, there was no consensus at the Tel Aviv meeting. Discussions ended on Thursday in a stalemate over the Zimbabwe ban, despite all-night talks that broke up at 5.30 am and then continued for several hours later in the afternoon.

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.

The Western warmongers are unsettled by one terrifying fact: the diamonds will help Zimbabwe bust the racist sanctions once and for all. Once the sanctions are dismantled, the regime-change agenda will be left in tatters, with Zanu-PF firmly in the driving seat. It is a nightmare that is giving Western politicians as well as their think-tanks and surrogates sleepless nights.

But the three countries that are needlessly politicising Zimba-bwe’s diamonds are getting it all wrong. They falsely assume that the KP is the only platform available to diamond traders. There are plenty other avenues out there, so there is no way a nation as fiercely independent as Zimbabwe can be held to ransom by a clueless bunch of bullies.

The Tel Aviv meeting convened in light of the second report of the KP monitor to Zimbabwe, Mr Abbey Chikane. In question was the continued implementation of the Joint Work Plan, agreed upon at the plenary meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia, in November 2009.

When the matter of whether or not to adopt Mr Chikane’s report was put to a vote, a total of 69 KP members gave Zimbabwe the thumbs-up while only a paltry four — Australia, Canada, the US and the European Union — sought to oppose. But as soon as the Western powers realised that they had been defeated in a democratic process, the rules were abruptly changed. The KP chair, Mr Boaz Hirsch, said there had to be consensus, meaning every member must consent.

How ludicrous can you get?

In his latest report, Mr Chikane makes it clear that Zimbabwe has covered considerable ground in implementing the KP recommendations. 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 US conniving to allege that Zimbabwe has “blood diamonds”? What objective facts are they advancing in labelling these stones “blood diamonds”?

We hold no brief for Mr Chikane, who is now being unfairly vilified by Canada and the US. He may have his imperfections, but he is certainly not a fly-by-night character in the diamond industry. He chairs the South African Diamond Board and that alone says a lot about his credentials.

In disregarding the latest report on Marange, the US, Canada and Australia are pandering to cheap politicking by seeking to cast aspersions on Mr Chikane’s competence. They are also discrediting the KP itself.

The behaviour of these three countries is ridiculous. After all, the Kimberley Process is a voluntary club.

And how, in all seriousness, do these countries seek to replace Mr Chikane with Finance Minister Tendai Biti as Marange monitor? What does Mr Biti know about the mining and processing of diamonds? We are dealing here with people who are panicking that Zimbabwe is about to bust their evil sanctions.

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

As Mr Even-Zohar confirms, Zimbabwe has become a major player on the world diamond market. By virtue of this nation’s huge potential, those who seek to demonise and isolate our diamonds are doomed to failure.

In any case, we know for a fact that the Kimberley Process primarily deals with trade in rough diamonds. Should Zimbabwe choose to cut and polish its stones — and this is already under way (refer to last week’s issue of The Sunday Mail) — the imperialist loudmouths who cowardly hide behind the KP veil will be outflanked and defeated.

On the matter of diamonds, the people of Zimbabwe are united in telling the coalition Government a simple but powerful message: sell those diamonds now and bust the racist sanctions.


87 foreigners involved in illicit deals deported.

By Itai Mazire

EIGHTY-SEVEN foreigners, most of them West Africans and Asians who were involved in diverse business ventures, have been deported from Zimbabwe over the past five months for violating the country's immigration laws.

The illegal immigrants were from 14 countries with the bulk of them being Chinese and Nigerian nationals.

Investigations showed that some of the affected immigrants had entered into marriages of convenience with Zimbabwean nationals while others were involved in illicit deals that included human trafficking.

The majority of the deported immigrants were operating small businesses in Harare.

Their illegal stay in the country came to an end after they were rounded up in a routine joint operation carried out by the Department of Immigration and police.

Investigations by immigration officials showed a worrying increase in cases of human trafficking involving syndicates run by immigrants.

Three self-styled traditional healers from Tanzania and Kenya were also among those deported for violating the Immigration Act.

The head of the investigations, assistant regional immigration officer Evans Siziba, confirmed the deportation of foreigners, saying the exercise was ongoing.

“We have deported foreigners from Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, China, Pakistan, Mali, Ethiopia, Britain, Zambia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“One of these 87, a Briton, had come into the country on the pretence of being a tourist on holiday and extended his stay, which is a violation of the Immigration Act,” said Mr Siziba.

Mr Siziba revealed that since the beginning of the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa, there had been an increase in the number of foreigners entering the country illegally.

“There has been an influx of foreigners entering the country illegally since the World Cup kicked off on June 11.

“Some of these people are coming into the country on the pretext that they are seeking refugee status. When we allow them in, the foreigners abscond and begin residing in the country illegally,” said Mr Siziba.

Over the past year, the country has received more than 5 000 refugees seeking asylum with most of them later disappearing.

A fortnight ago, a Kenyan national believed to be a ringleader of a human trafficking syndicate was arrested while trying to facilitate the movement of 12 Somalis to South Africa. Immigration officials in Kariba intercepted the group of Somalis after they entered the country illegally.

Mr Siziba said efforts to rid the country of illegal immigrants were continuing, adding that authorities were tightly monitoring the situation at all ports of entry.

Last week, Beitbridge police nabbed a suspected Pakistani terrorist, Imran Muhammad (33), and his compatriot, Chaudry Parvez Ahmed (39), as they tried to enter South Africa using what immigration officials believed to be fake passports.

It is understood that Muhammad and Ahmed flew from Saudi Arabia to

Tanzania, where they fraudulently acquired Kenyan passports before connecting to Zimbabwe by road.

Late last year, 30 foreigners who had come to Zimbabwe to join the diamond rush at Chiadzwa in Manicaland, were deported by immigration authorities.

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