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This article participates on the following special index pages:
Marange, Chiadzwa and other diamond fields and the Kimberley Process - Index of articles
Zimbabwe's diamond wealth: Interview with Farai Maguwu
July 24, 2012
is the director of the Center
for Research and Development (CRD), a leading Zimbabwean advocacy
group that has documented human rights abuses in the country's
extractive industries, most notably in the Marange
diamond field. Maguwu received
the Human Rights Watch Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary
Activism in 2011.
you explain who currently controls the diamond industry in Zimbabwe?
How is this source of wealth likely to factor into the upcoming
view is that all mining is done through joint-venture partnerships
between the Zimbabwean government and private enterprises. However,
in practice there are several private companies involved in mining
activities in the Marange diamond field. For instance, the deputy
mines minister recently revealed that Anjin Investments, which is
by far the biggest diamond mining company in Marange, is controlled
50 percent by the Chinese, 40 percent by the Zimbabwe National Army
through its subsidiary company Zimbabwe Defense Industries (ZDI),
and 10 percent by another company linked to the army. This militarization
of the extractive sector in Zimbabwe, where the generals have become
company directors and shareholders on behalf of the government,
is extremely worrying.
I see the conflict
in Zimbabwe as having more to do with resources than anything else.
Political power becomes the means to acquire and retain wealth.
For that reason, those in control of the diamond fields will see
the next election as a defining moment and will stop at nothing
to secure their economic interests. Diamond revenues are failing
to find their way into the treasury; instead they are being channeled
towards political campaign strategies and funding political violence
and intimidation campaigns countrywide. And I believe there is likely
to be a repetition
of 2008, when the Zimbabwe National Army was implicated in a
reign of terror against opposition supporters and civil society
activists in an effort to ensure President Mugabe retained power.
The military interest in a ZANU-PF victory is much stronger today
than in 2008 due to the newfound diamond wealth, which is largely
benefiting senior military officials at the expense of the nation.
In my view, involving the military in diamond mining is one of the
most agonizing economic and political own goals Zimbabwe has scored
in recent years.
you describe some of the abuses that CRD has documented? Are the
perpetrators of these abuses being held accountable?
The abuses that
we documented range from torture, forced labor, and rape to murder.
However, these were most frequent during the period from November
2008 to mid-2010, and the army was the biggest perpetrator of these
abuses. Lately, the private security guards have become the chief
perpetrators of human rights abuses as they battle with artisanal
miners who often break company perimeter fences to dig for diamonds.
Perpetrators of these abuses have not been held accountable, mainly
due to the fact that their victims do not report the matter to the
police, as they fear further harassment or even arrests.
rights abuse is one of the primary reasons the United States and
the European Union have instituted sanctions against Zimbabwe. How
do sanctions influence the diamond trade? Would removal of sanctions
make any difference?
Mining Development Corporation and Minerals Marketing Corporation
of Zimbabwe are on EU and U.S. sanctions lists, meaning Zimbabwe
cannot sell its diamonds to Europe and the U.S. Today, sanctions
are used by the looting elites as an excuse to engage in opaque
diamond deals under the guise of sanctions busting. However, there
is no indication that if sanctions are removed there will be greater
transparency and accountability. Removal of sanctions may as well
be a blank check to those who are looting Marange diamonds. On the
other hand, there is pressure from some sections of the diamond
industry in the U.S. and the EU who feel that sanctions are giving
China and India an unfair advantage over them. Others feel that
sanctions do not work at all, since Marange diamonds are finding
their way to all corners of the world in spite of them. However,
I think if the EU and the U.S. feel strongly that they should lift
sanctions as a way of promoting diamond revenue transparency, they
should suspend them for a provisional period of six months and thereafter
phone the finance minister, Tendai Biti, to inquire if there is
behavioral change regarding remittance of diamond revenue to the
role can Zimbabwe's civil society play in both exposing and
preventing human rights abuses and bolstering transparency in the
to play a watchdog role in the extractive sector. There is a lot
of awareness-raising work being done to ensure that the diamonds
story is pushed up high on the national agenda. Coalitions such
as the Publish What You Pay campaign are also helping to discuss
ways of improving revenue transparency in the extractive sector
in Zimbabwe. The Publish What You Pay Zimbabwe Chapter is meant
to mobilize Zimbabwean civil society to demand that mining companies
declare how much revenue they are paying to the Zimbabwe government.
This will in turn help us to hold the government to account for
the revenue they are receiving from mining companies.
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