An international watchdog group said Monday that political and military elites connected to Zimbabwe's former ruling ZANU-PF party seek to capture the country's diamond wealth through a combination of state-sponsored violence and opaque joint-venture companies formed to extract alluvial diamonds from eastern Marange district.
In a report entitled “The Return of The Blood Diamond,” Global Witness criticized the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, set up to end the trade in conflict diamonds, for failing to react effectively to end the crisis in Marange, in Manicaland province, where diamonds were discovered in quantity several years ago.
The report said Mines Minister Obert Mpofu has played a key role in blocking oversight by Parliament and others of two companies working in joint ventures with the government, Canadile Miners and Mbada Diamonds.
The Canadian non-governmental organization Partnership Africa Canada also issued a report on Monday examining the diamond industry in Zimbabwe. The two NGO reports, which call for Zimbabwe's membership in the Kimberley Process to be suspended, contrasted dramatically with a report by Kimberley monitor Abbey Chikane, who said Zimbabwe should be certified to export diamonds from the controversial Marange field.
Global Witness spokeswoman Amy Barry told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the evidence argues for Zimbabwe’s suspension when Kimberley Process members gather in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 21.
"Global Witness is calling on international governments to suspend Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process scheme until it can prove its diamonds aren't bankrolling violence and abuse," Global Witness stated.
"Zimbabwe must immediately withdraw the army from the diamond fields, hold rights abusers to account and suspend imports and exports of rough diamonds until the diamond sector meets international standards," the group said. "It should also suspend the introduction of new investors into Marange until the legality of current joint ventures can be established, and effective oversight implemented."
Partnership Africa Canada commented: "Zimbabwe is not the only country failing to meet some or all of the basic requirements asked of diamond producing nations by the Kimberley Process. But Zimbabwe sets itself apart from the others because of the government's brazen defiance of universally agreed principles of humanity and good governance expected of adherents to the [Kimberley Process]."
"As such Zimbabwe poses a serious crisis of credibility for the KP, whose impotence in the face of thuggery and illegality in Zimbabwe underscores a worrisome inability or unwillingness to enforce either the letter, or the
spirit, of its founding mandate," Partnership Africa Canada declared.
Regional Coordinator Dewa Mavhinga of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said next week's Kimberley Process meeting should suspend Harare from the organization until a clearer position regarding the definition of the term "blood diamond" has been agreed, and until the shroud of secrecy over Marange has been lifted.
International organizations have also expressed concern as to the welfare of activist Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development in Mutare, who remained in police custody on Monday.
Legal sources said Maguwu was removed from the Harare remand prison for interrogation on the weekend. Lawyer Tinoziva Bere, one of the attorneys representing him, said a bail hearing has been set for Wednesday.