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Stakeholders call for Kimberly Process improvement

Today, Friday 23 November 2012, various stakeholders from different sectors, including government and civil society, have called on the Kimberly Process (KP) to be improved so as to also look into the issues corruption and beneficiation in the diamond revenues, beyond the important issues of human rights compliance.

Speaking at a Diamond Mining Conference organized by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance held at the Holiday Inn on the 23rd of November 2012 in Harare stakeholders lambasted the Marange Diamond mining activities which they characterized to be as "shadowy" as a mafia enterprise.

Those present included CSOs, Marange community representatives, Deputy Minister of Justice, Honorable Obert Gutu, and Member of Parliament for Bulawayo South, Eddie Cross. The stakeholders rapped the Ministry of Mines, ZMDC, and diamond mining companies for being secretive and unaccountable in respect of the revenue from the diamond mining activities which are happening at Chiadzwa in Marange.

Director of Centre of Natural Resources Governance, Mr Farai Maguwu warned that the diamonds in Marange could get depleted before any tangible development that is funded from the diamonds is realized. Mr Maguwu said that;

"The next time we will be told that there are no more diamonds. This is because companies like Anjin have launched into a mining overdrive without remitting to Treasury. This is what we have seen in other countries like Angola where diamonds have just been used to acquire military hardware and oppress the opposition parties."

Speaking at the conference, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) Director, Mr McDonald Lewanika said;

"Civil society has been deliberately kept in the dark, while on the other hand the government is claiming that because of this deliberate information black out civil society organizations are not informed and should not speak on the Marange diamonds. In fact, we are worried that the Attorney General, Johannes Tomana, and the Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Dr Obert Mpofu, have threatened CSOs with arrest purportedly for peddling falsehoods. Yet, CSOs have been refused access to Marange even after applying formally to the relevant authorities. This feeds into speculation that the government, particularly the Mines Ministry has something to hide."

He added that:

"The ownership of Anjin for instance shows that there is heavy militarization of diamond mining. Anjin is owned 40% by the military through the Zimbabwe Defence Industries, and this is information in the public domain. The whole mining enterprise is being run like a mafia business. This is what you get when you bring in the army who are socialized in secrecy and militarism into mining."

Deputy Minister of Justice, Hon. Obert Gutu, challenged the Minister of Mines and Mining Development to come out clear to the public on the quantity and revenue produced by the diamond mines since March 2006, when formal mining started. Minister Gutu said;

"No one even those in the Inclusive Government, Cabinet, and Parliament know how much has been mined expect those directly involved in these activities. The Mines Ministry should reveal how much money has been produced in Chiadzwa since operations started in March 2006. This is important to prove that nothing has been looted.

Minister Gutu went on to say,

"When we see grand projects like the agricultural inputs scheme the funding of which remains secretive and has not passed through Treasury we are bound to speculate that theses unaccountable projects are linked to the lack of transparency in Marange diamond revenues."

The stakeholders at the conference raised unanimous concerns about the way the Marange diamonds have been handled by government, ZMDC, and mining companies since formal mining operations started about a half a decade ago.

The delegates cited lack of transparency in diamond mining revenue, incessant trampling of the basic human rights of the Chiadzwa community, glaring lack of tangible development initiatives from the diamond revenues, and militarization of the diamonds as well as the growing quest by government to silence civil society organizations on all these issues. The conference recommended that the Kimberly Process should be reformed to include a focus on stemming corruption in diamond revenues and beneficiation.

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