News / Economy

Belgium Pushes EU to Lift Sanctions on Zimbabwe Diamond Miner

FILE - Miners dig for diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe.
FILE - Miners dig for diamonds in Marange, eastern Zimbabwe.
Reuters
Belgium, center of the global diamond trade, is demanding that the European Union lift sanctions on a Zimbabwean mining firm despite deep concerns within the bloc over alleged fraud in a July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in power.
 
Belgium's call for the removal of sanctions on the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has put it at odds with other EU countries such as Britain which is reluctant to rush into a move that could be seen as rewarding Mugabe.
 
EU states are squabbling over how to interpret an agreement by EU foreign ministers in February to lift sanctions on ZMDC within a month of the poll unless EU governments unanimously agreed the vote was not “peaceful, transparent and credible.”
 
This was part of an EU strategy of easing sanctions to try to encourage 89-year-old Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader who has ruled the former British colony for 33 years, to hold a fair election.
 
Mugabe overwhelmingly won the July 31 vote but it was denounced as a “huge fraud” by his main rival Morgan Tsvangirai.
 
The EU has expressed “serious concerns” over the alleged irregularities.
 
However, Belgium - home to the world's leading diamond trading hub at Antwerp - argues that the EU has not refused to recognize the election and so the February agreement must be respected and sanctions on ZMDC lifted.
 
“For us, there is an agreement,” Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hendrik van de Velde said.
 
He said the agreement was confirmed by diplomats from EU member states last Friday and it was now simply a question of drawing up a legal instrument lifting the sanctions on ZMDC, something he expected to happen soon.
 
Belgium's interpretation of the debate is not shared by EU officials who say talks are still going on about what to do.
 
Inevitable
 
Former colonial power Britain, which has been more critical of the Zimbabwean elections than the EU as a whole, is reluctant to see a rush to lift sanctions on ZMDC.
 
“No decision has yet been taken regarding the de-listing of any individual or entity under the measures related to Zimbabwe, including ZMDC. Discussions continue on the listing of ZMDC,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman in London said.
 
However unwelcome the move would be to Britain, some European diplomats say it is inevitable the bloc will have to lift sanctions on ZMDC in line with the February agreement.
 
“At the end of the day, we have to delist ZMDC,” a diplomat from one EU country said, asking not to be named.
 
ZMDC operates five joint-venture mines in the rich Marange diamond fields, producing eight million carats last year and generating $685 million in exports, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported earlier this year.
 
Belgium says lifting EU sanctions on ZMDC would increase Zimbabwe's tax revenues by $400 million a year as well as bringing more trade to Antwerp.
 
Mugabe, buoyed by broad approval from African election observers for the vote, has rejected the Western skepticism.
 
Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness, citing links between mining companies, insiders in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Zimbabwe's pro-Mugabe military, has alleged that state diamond revenues may have been directly spent on securing the Mugabe re-election through intimidation of voters and vote-rigging.
 
“We would be very concerned if sanctions were lifted on ZMDC now,” Global Witness' senior campaigner on conflict resources, Emily Armistead, told Reuters. “These sorts of allegations need to be looked at much more carefully before the EU makes a decision.”

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9148
JPY
USD
122.47
GBP
USD
0.6474
CAD
USD
1.2739
INR
USD
63.484

Rates may not be current.