News / Africa

Diplomats Tour Controversial Zimbabwe Diamond Fields

An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010.An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010.
x
An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010.
An illegal diamond dealer from Zimbabwe displays diamonds for sale in Manica, near the border with Zimbabwe, September 19, 2010.
HARARE — In Zimbabwe, Western diplomats have finished a tour of the controversial Marange diamond fields, arranged by Zimbabwe's unity government.  Officials hoped the tour would alleviate concerns that security forces are abusing miners and stealing revenues, and would help persuade Western countries to lift travel and financial sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and allies with his ZANU-PF party.

The three-day tour by 11 western ambassadors that ended Thursday was at the invitation of Zimbabwean officials to this once no-go area.  Besides visiting the fields, the ambassadors toured places where villagers displaced by the mining operations were located by the government.

In an interview after the tour, the European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Aldo Dell'Arricia, said there were still more questions to be answered regarding diamond mining in Zimbabwe.

"Transparency is extremely important in… all extracting mining activities, essentially in order to ensure that the benefits of this wealth trickle down to the population...  There [at Marange diamond fields] we have an impression that there is a deficit that transparency is not yet there.  We encourage the government of Zimbabwe to continue respecting the principles of the Kimberley Process," Dell'Arricia noted.

The Kimberley Process is the international watchdog system designed to prevent trade in so-called blood diamonds.

Zimbabwe's government wanted Western diplomats to visit the diamond fields to convince them that alleged abuses in the fields have stopped.    

In 2009, rights groups accused Zimbabwe's army of seizing the fields by beating, torturing and killing independent miners.  Afterward, Kimberley Process members banned Zimbabwe from selling Marange diamonds abroad, a ban that lasted for more than a year.

Many hoped the lifting of the ban would help improve Zimbabwe's economy and increase revenue for the country's cash-strapped government.  But that has not been the case.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said diamond revenue is still not reaching state coffers, an indication of corruption.  He is not alone about expressing concern.  

"I think every Zimbabwean would want to see diamonds in Marange benefiting the country," said Shamiso Mtisi, the local Civil Society Coalition coordinator for the Kimberley Process.  "For us it is an issue of concern… It is best [for] Zimbabwe to know the actual totality of revenue realized from the diamonds… Once we aware of that information we will be [able to] say how is that money being distributed in electricity, water, social sectors that are lacking."

Beginning in 2002, the United States, Britain and other countries imposed sanctions on people and companies they deemed to be helping Mugabe and his party oppress political opponents and suppress human rights.  

After the tour, those sanctions appear destined to stay in place.  On Friday, the EU's Dell'Arricia said the West would not use the trip to the controversial diamond fields to review the sanctions.

You May Like

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid