News / Africa

Activists Fear Diamonds Will Fund Mugabe Power Grab

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
x
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the start of a conference of parties and civic society groups reviewing a draft constitution that, if adopted, will lead to Zimbabwe's next election, at a hotel in Harare, October 22, 2012.
Selah Hennessy
A lack of transparency in the sale of diamonds remains a major problem in Zimbabwe and activists fear diamond revenues may be used to fund the campaign of President Robert Mugabe's party in an election due to take place early next year.
 
In 2009 an international ban was imposed on the sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds. That came as a result of allegations that some mines were controlled by the military and that funds were diverted to Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

Last year that decision was reversed and a diamond watchdog body, the Kimberley Process, gave Zimbabwe the green light to sell its diamonds on the international market.

Troubling issues linger

Farai Maguwu, director of the Centre for Natural Resource Governance in eastern Zimbabwe, said major problems remain unsolved.

Most importantly, he said, it’s unclear where revenue from the sale of diamonds is ending up.

“On the issue of revenue transparency nothing has changed. I think the conditions are getting even worse and worse," said Maguwu. "We have the minister of finance on record saying he is not getting much of the diamond revenues in the treasury, which means individuals and other groups of people are profiting from the diamonds at the expense of the nation.”

In July, Finance Minister Tendai Biti slashed Zimbabwe’s 2012 budget, saying funds from diamond mines had failed to bolster the treasury.

National security questions

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation said it expects to earn $150 million from the sale of diamonds this year, rather than the $600 million predicted. That's a 75 percent shortfall.

The low profits, it said, are a result of international sanctions, especially from the United States.

Maguwu said the military continues to play a leading role in Zimbabwe’s mining industry and that, he said, raises serious questions about national security.  

“There are quite a number of security officials who are involved in diamond mining," he said. "Some of them are on the boards of the diamond mining companies and when you have got individuals becoming richer than the state and you have the military abdicating from their role of providing national security to get involved in commercial activities - that is a recipe for political instability in the country.”

A major diamond conference is due to take place in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls later this month.

Upcoming elections

Maguwu said the decision to bring Zimbabwe back into the Kimberley Process should be assessed, looking at whether the situation in Zimbabwe has improved since the ban was lifted.  

Meanwhile, Mugabe has called for elections to take place in March.

Human Rights Watch Africa Advocacy Director Tiseke Kasambala said she is concerned that diamond revenue is likely to fund violence ahead of the polls.

“The conditions on the ground are not conducive to the holding of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe," said Kasambala. "The military retains control of Marange diamond revenue and this is the same military that was involved in widespread abuses in 2008 and was not held accountable for those abuses.”

The 2008 elections were marred by violence, most of it by ZANU-PF supporters against the opposition MDC party.

Months of political turmoil followed the elections - the end result was that Mugabe agreed to form a power-sharing deal with the MDC party, led by Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe has said he wants elections in order to end that arrangement. The MDC has said elections hinge on passage of a new constitution.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sean Clinton from: Ireland
November 09, 2012 7:30 AM
The failure of the Kimberley Process members to broaden the definition of a "conflict diamond" and ensure all diamonds that fund human rights violations are banned, cut and polished as well as rough diamonds, means consumers can have no confidence in the ethical provenance of any diamonds. Jewellers are fraudaulently claiming diamonds are conflict-free even though a large percentage of the diamonds on the international market are funding regimes guilty of gross human rights violations including war crimes and crimes against humanity in the case of diamonds processed in Israel. The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition has failed to represent the interests of civil society and has allowed the vested interests in the diamond industry to dictate what diamonds can and cannot be classed as "conflict diamonds". Thier continued participation in the KP is being used by the diamond industry as a fig leaf to hide the global trade in what are de-facto blood diamonds. Yesterday Israeli forces in Gaza murdered a 13 year old boy, Hamid Younis Abu Dagka. The Israeli diamond industry generates over $1 billion in funding for the Israeli military each year. Despite this, jewelers continue to claim diamond crafted in Israeli are conflict-free. Jewellers must end the trade in all blood diamonds regardless of whether they are from Africa or from Israel.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
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 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 US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
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 Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
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 Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
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 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.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden 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