Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zimbabwe Diamonds Hit Market Amid Continued U.S./Western Provocations

Zimbabwe Diamonds Hit Market Amid Continued U.S./Western Provocations

Battling sanctions, government scores victory over economic blockade

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Zimbabwe sold the first group of 900,000 carats of diamonds from the Chiadzwa mines on August 11. The sales earned $US72 million in one day.

This development was the result of a protracted political struggle waged by the government and its allies around the world against efforts by the United States, the United Kingdom and other imperialist states to ban Zimbabwe from selling its diamonds internationally. The Southern African nation, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of national liberation, has been subjected to economic sanctions by the West since the state supported the seizures of thousands of farms owned by British settlers in 2000.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party (ZANU-PF) negotiated for a transfer of the land peacefully in the first two decades after independence. Both the U.S. and U.K. failed to honor promises made during the pre-independence Lancaster House talks in 1979-1980 to bankroll a land reform plan by compensating British settler-colonialists whose ancestors had seized Zimbabwe through force during the latter decade of the 19th century.

In continuing this same process of preventing Zimbabwe from achieving economic control over its resources, the imperialist states and their supporters attempted to halt the country from marketing its diamond resources which have been estimated to be approximately 25 percent of the world’s supply. Nonetheless, the government was certified to move forward in placing its diamonds on the market at a recent gathering of the World Diamond Council held in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Zimbabwe had been accused of violating the so-called “Kimberley Process” which was adopted during the 1990s in part to curtail the use of stolen diamonds by the western-backed UNITA rebel organization in Angola, which utilized the gems to finance its operations after the withdrawal of open assistance from the U.S. Today, the KP is being used to maintain imperialist control over the mining and marketing of diamonds.

According to Vice-President John Nkomo, who spoke at a certification ceremony in the capital of Harare on August 10, “Since the middle of last year, the country went through several stages in its quest to satisfy the KP minimum requirements. As Government, we remained committed to the scheme as a founding participant to the KP.” (Zimbabwe Herald, August 11)

Nkomo continued by emphasizing that the “Government clearly understands the purpose of the institution and embrace its ideals. However, it is critical that a non-partisan approach is followed in the execution of these ideals to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and fairness in the KP.”

The Zimbabwe government views the vast reservoir of diamond resources as a mechanism to foster economic development. Nkomo said that “Today’s ceremony is a symbol of our great resolve as a nation to succeed. Although it took us long to be where we are today, we will not tire to do the right things in the eyes of our people and the international community.”

This new development has prompted discussions in Zimbabwe over the use of revenues garnered from the sale of diamonds and other natural resources including gold, platinum, chrome, nickel, and coal. Nkomo indicated that the government had taken steps to enable investors in the mining sector to establish partnerships with the state that were mutually beneficial.

“Diamonds are our heritage, a heritage, which we should bequeath to our children and future generations. These diamonds should benefit the people of Zimbabwe and it is our shared and collective responsibility as Zimbabweans to guard this resource jealously,” Nkomo said.

In an editorial published in the Zimbabwe Herald on August 11 entitled “Let’s Ensure Diamonds Benefit Nation,” it states that “The riches generated from these diamonds can be used to make a few well-connected individuals fabulously wealthy or the money can be used to balance a far more lavish budget than the State has been able to finance up to now.”

The editorial goes on to point out that “There appears, at the top anyway, little argument. President Mugabe and Finance Minister Tendai Biti have made almost identical statements that the cash raised from the diamonds must go to the State, and must never be used to enrich individuals, even if these people are Zimbabweans.”

Government estimates claim that at least $US1 billion can be earned every year through the sale of diamonds just from the above-mentioned field. This would increase state spending by 50 percent.

These funds could be utilized, according to the Herald editorial, to lift state employees out of poverty and began to make tremendous contributions towards reconstructing public education and healthcare. The newspaper says that “In fact, the diamonds could replace the hoped-for foreign aid that never arrived, and do a bit more.”

Western Imperialists Continue Provocations Against Zimbabwe

A recent diplomatic row developed between Zimbabwe and the West--including the United States and the European Union--when their ambassadors walked out of a memorial service held in honor of the President Mugabe’s sister Sabina on August 1. Mugabe in his address at the gathering of thousands of ZANU-PF supporters, blasted the imperialist states for their continued efforts to destabilize Zimbabwe through sanctions and sabotage aimed at regime change.

Mugabe told the crowd at the National Heroes’ Acre, a burial ground for liberation movement fighters, that “We are still being treated as if we don’t own this country. They want to tell us, do A, B and C of that, remove so-and-so and they are now saying Mugabe must go first. Whoever told them that their will is above that of the people of Zimbabwe?” (Reuters, August 1)

The president echoed the sentiment of ZANU-PF: “We say to hell, hell with them. Sanctions must go, and they must go. They are hurting our people regardless of political affiliation.”

Despite the creation of a national coalition government with the western-backed opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and the MDC-M, the imperialists have maintain the blockade against Zimbabwe and is financing the MDC exclusively. There are sharp divisions between ZANU-PF and the MDC-T over the demand by Mugabe’s party that the state must control at least 51 percent of all foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks.

There are also differences between ZANU-PF and a number of non-governmental organizations over the extent to which they should control aid resources inside the country. According to the Sunday Mail “The Government has clashed with some NGOS over the management of a US$478 million humanitarian aid package to be extended to Zimbabwe through a United Nations agency. “ (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, August 8)

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional Integration and International Co-operation, Tedious Chifamba, accused the NGOs of greed for wanting to control more than 26 percent of the U.N. resources allocated to the Southern African nation. Chifamba accused the NGOs of attempting to run a parallel aid program in order to bypass state control and oversight.

“The resources should go directly to the intended beneficiaries and they should not be used to purchase vehicles and cover administrative costs. That is why it is important for the Government and local authorities to be involved,” Chifamba noted.

Regional and International Relations Thwart Attempts at Isolating Zimbabwe

President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa pledged his continued support for Zimbabwe on the eve of the 30th anniversary summit of the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) held in Namibia on August 16-17. Zuma, who is the SADC-appointed mediator for the coalition government in Zimbabwe, said that the nation is “on the correct path” toward national reconciliation and development.

SADC was formed in 1980 in the aftermath of the independence of Zimbabwe. At that time both South Africa and Namibia were still under white minority control by the racist apartheid regime then based in Pretoria. The settler-colonial regime in South Africa and Namibia was actively engaged in destabilization programs aimed at Angola, Mozambique, Lesotho and other progressive states in the region.

At present the SADC has 15 member countries: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Indian Ocean island-nation of Madagascar did not attend the SADC Summit in Namibia due to a coup last year resulting in its suspension pending the resolution of its political problems.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba of the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) that fought and won the national liberation of the country in 1990, delivered the opening address at the SADC Summit. He said that since the formation of SADC in 1980, “Our region has established a strong democratic culture, in which a political transition is regularly achieved through the ballot box.” (Mail & Guardian, South Africa, August 16)

President Pohamba continued by pointing out that “However, more remains to be done. We have an historic opportunity to realize the dream of SADC citizens,” stressing that poverty eradication, food security, job creation, gender equality and eliminating the HIV/AIDS pandemic were among the top priorities for the regional organization.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe visited the People’s Republic of China prior to the SADC Summit and announced that the socialist state would provide yet another aid package for Zimbabwe valued at $US 15.2 million. The aid will consist of the establishment of a financial institution to facilitate trade, agricultural support, and the implementation of a framework for the enactment of previous agreements by the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.

Chinese President Hu Jintao said on August 14 during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People near the Mao Tse Tung Mausoleum that “China supports the Zimbabwe Government’s hard work to restore and develop the economy, and is willing to push forward co-operation in mining, agriculture, infrastructure and other sectors.” (Zimbabwe Herald, August 14)

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