Set up accountability measures in diamond industry: CZC

Zimbabwe: Urgently set up human rights respecting, transparency and accountability measures in diamond industry for the benefit of all

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition calls on the government of Zimbabwe to urgently put in place the necessary measures to ensure transparency and accountability to the people of Zimbabwe on the extraction of Marange diamonds and how their sale will benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

Instead of clamouring for a blank cheque to sell Marange diamonds without any form of accountability to Zimbabweans and to the Kimberley Process we demand that the government of Zimbabwe commit to immediate restoration of rule of law and respect for human rights its diamond industry.

It is unacceptable that the government of Zimbabwe should brush off serious allegations of serious human rights violations perpetrated mainly by the military in Marange diamond fields since 2008.  These well-documented allegations include the killings of civilians, use of forced labour, widespread corruption and smuggling of the precious stones.

Despite drawing up a joint work plan with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Namibia in November 2009, the government of Zimbabwe has not delivered on its own commitments, including the demilitarization of Marange diamond fields. At least 95% of the diamond fields remain under tight military control.

Meanwhile, smuggling of Marange diamonds remains rampant, with the military, senior government officials, employees of the so-called private investors Mbada Holdings and Canadile Mining, implicated in the looting.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition firmly believes that with the necessary structures in place to end rights abuses, channel diamond revenue transparently and inform accountability mechanisms, minerals can potentially play a crucial role in reviving Zimbabwe’s ailing economy. However, to unlock this wealth, the government of Zimbabwe must fully comply with the Kimberley Process minimum standards before trading Marange diamonds.

We further demand that Zimbabwe’s finance minister, Mr Tendai Biti, disclose to the people of Zimbabwe what concrete measures he has put in place to ensure that when diamonds are sold, the national purse benefits. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition urges the government of Zimbabwe to seriously consider setting up a National Fund to transparently and equitably administer wealth from mineral resources in a manner that benefits present and future generations.  

Whether or not human rights issues are central to the Kimberley Process, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition believes that the government of Zimbabwe owes it to its people to respect human rights and ensure that no diamonds are mined against the backdrop of serious human rights abuses. To demonstrate commitment to the rule of law and human rights respect, the government of Zimbabwe must facilitate an independent investigation into human rights abuses alleged to have taken place in Marange and hold accountable all those implicated.

The people of Zimbabwe demand of their government to respect basic rights. The people of Zimbabwe demand that all companies operating in the country, notably those operating in Marange diamond fields, respect human rights and to fully account to them. It is morally wrong, and outright unethical for companies to do business in the context of serious human rights abuses.

Hence, to demonstrate its commitment to human rights respect, the government of Zimbabwe must drop all charges currently levelled against Farai Maguwu a prominent researcher into the smuggling of diamonds and human rights abuses in Marange. Maguwu was on July 12, 2010 granted bail after 39 days in custody on charges we believe to be nothing but persecution charges of allegedly publishing or communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state in contravention of the country’s criminal code.

During the course of his incarceration, Maguwu’s basic rights were trampled upon by, for example, not bringing him to court within the stipulated 48hours and denying him medical attention. We believe Maguwu is being persecuted for his sterling work in exposing corruption, smuggling and human rights abuses in Marange.  

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition also wishes to state it has lost all faith in the ability of the Kimberley Process Monitor for Zimbabwe, Mr Abbey Chikane, to professionally and impartially discharge his assigned duties. Firstly, Mr Chikane made serious allegations which we urge Kimberley Process to independently investigate, that while on mission to Zimbabwe, suspected Zimbabwe state security agents opened Chikane’s bag and stole confidential communication which was subsequently published in local state-run papers. These allegations alone seriously undermine Chikane’s professional work as state security agents may have applied undue influence on him.  

Secondly and more importantly, circumstances leading to Maguwu’s arrest raise serious questions on the role played by Mr Chikane in the lead-up to that arrest. And finally, Mr Chikane’s two fact-finding-mission reports completely ignored and sidestepped the fundamental issue of human rights abuses. These human rights abuses, perpetrated predominantly by the military, are ongoing. According to Centre for Research and Development, in March 2010 alone, 24 cases of physical assaults were recorded, and two cases of rape.  

In this context, the government of Zimbabwe must fully commit and publicly demonstrate restoration of the rule of law in the diamond industry by respecting all relevant court orders and rulings particularly relating to the legal rights dispute involving African Consolidated Resources (ACR). Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition urges the government of Zimbabwe to speedily resolve the dispute in accordance with due process of law.  

Due process of law and full compliance with domestic and international standards should be applied to government plans to forcibly relocate at least 4 200 families who live near the diamond fields. If relocation is found to be necessary, government should make sure that all the families are consulted, adequate compensation is provided for and there is provision of alternative essential services including clean water, education, health and sanitation.  

In light of the above, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition makes the following recommendations to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme and the rest of the International community:

1.       Urge Zimbabwe to facilitate an independent investigation into human rights abuses in Marange with the view of holding perpetrators to account for their actions and seeking recourse for victims of such.

2.       Replace Mr. Abbey Chikane as Kimberley Process Monitor in Zimbabwe and disregard his two reports on the same. Immediately appoint a new, professional and independent monitor to see through the full implementation of the joint work plan developed in 2009. 

3.       Urge government of Zimbabwe to set up clear structures for transparency and accountability before sale of Marange diamonds can resume. The finance minister of Zimbabwe should present clear plans on how diamond revenue will be channelled to the national purse to benefit all Zimbabweans.

Statement issued by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition