Thursday, August 19, 2010

Zimbabwe Diamond Sales Defy U.S.-Led Sanctions

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published Aug 18, 2010 2:38 PM

Following a protracted political struggle waged by Zimbabwe and its allies against U.S., British and European Union imperialist efforts to ban its sale of diamonds, Zimbabwe sold the first group of diamonds from the Chiadzwa mines — 900,000 carats — on Aug. 11. The sales earned $72 million in one day.

Government estimates are that at least $1 billion can be earned every year through the sale of diamonds just from the Chiadzwa mines. That would increase state revenues by 50 percent and could fund many social service programs.

The southern African nation, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary of national liberation, has been subjected to economic sanctions by the West since 2000, when the state supported the seizures of thousands of farms owned by British settlers — land that European settlers had seized by force from the African people during their colonial rule.

As part of this same process of preventing Zimbabwe from achieving economic control over its resources, the imperialist states and their supporters attempted to halt the country from marketing its diamond resources, estimated at approximately 25 percent of the world’s supply.

Zimbabwe had been accused of violating the so-called “Kimberley Process,” which was adopted during the 1990s, in part to curtail the use of stolen diamonds by the Western-backed UNITA rebel organization in Angola. UNITA had utilized the gems to finance its operations after the U.S. withdrew its open assistance. Today, the KP is being used to maintain imperialist control over the mining and marketing of diamonds.

Nonetheless, the government was certified to move forward in placing its diamonds on the market at a recent gathering of the World Diamond Council held in St. Petersburg, Russia. According to Zimbabwe Vice President John Nkomo, who spoke at a certification ceremony in the capital of Harare on Aug. 10, “Since the middle of last year, the country went through several stages in its quest to satisfy the KP minimum requirements.” (Zimbabwe Herald, Aug. 11)

“Diamonds are our heritage, a heritage which we should bequeath to our children and future generations. These diamonds should benefit the people of Zimbabwe and it is our shared and collective responsibility as Zimbabweans to guard this resource jealously.”

The Zimbabwe government views the vast reservoir of diamond resources as a mechanism to foster economic development. This new development has prompted discussions in Zimbabwe over the use of revenues garnered from the sale of diamonds and other natural resources, including gold, platinum, chrome, nickel and coal.

An editorial published in the Zimbabwe Herald on Aug. 11, entitled “Let’s Ensure Diamonds Benefit Nation,” states, “President Mugabe and Finance Minister Tendai Biti have made almost identical statements that the cash raised from the diamonds must go to the state, and must never be used to enrich individuals, even if these people are Zimbabweans.”

The $1 billion yearly could be utilized, according to the editorial, to lift state employees out of poverty and begin to make tremendous contributions toward reconstructing public education and healthcare. The newspaper adds, “In fact, the diamonds could replace the hoped-for foreign aid that never arrived, and do a bit more.”

Imperialists provoke Zimbabwe

A diplomatic row developed on Aug. 1 between Zimbabwe and the West — including the United States and the European Union — when their ambassadors walked out of a memorial service held in honor of President Mugabe’s sister, Sabina Mugabe, a former member of parliament and ZANU-PF Women’s League leader. In his address at the gathering of thousands of ZANU-PF supporters, Mugabe blasted the imperialist states for their continued efforts to destabilize Zimbabwe through sanctions and sabotage aimed at regime change.

Mugabe told the crowd at the National Heroes’ Acre, a burial ground for liberation movement fighters: “We are still being treated as if we don’t own this country. They want to tell us, do A, B and C of that, remove so-and-so and they are now saying Mugabe must go first. Whoever told them that their will is above that of the people of Zimbabwe?” (Reuters, Aug. 1)

The president echoed the sentiment of ZANU-PF: “We say to hell, hell with them. Sanctions must go, and they must go. They are hurting our people regardless of political affiliation.”

Despite the creation of a national coalition government with the Western-backed opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and the smaller Movement for Democratic Change-Mutambara (MDC-M), the imperialists have maintained the blockade against Zimbabwe, and are financing the MDC-T exclusively. There are sharp divisions between ZANU-PF and the MDC-T over the demand by Mugabe’s party that the state must control at least 51 percent of all foreign-owned firms, including mines and banks.

There are also differences between ZANU-PF and some nongovernmental organizations that are trying to control more than 26 percent of aid resources inside the country. “The government has clashed with some NGOS over the management of a $478 million humanitarian aid package to be extended to Zimbabwe through a United Nations agency.” (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail, Aug. 8)

Regional support breaks Zimbabwe’s isolation

President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa pledged his continued support for Zimbabwe on the eve of the 30th anniversary summit of the regional Southern African Development Community held in Namibia on Aug. 16-17.

SADC was formed in 1980 in the aftermath of the independence of Zimbabwe, when both South Africa and Namibia were still under white-minority control by the racist apartheid regime then based in Pretoria. At present the SADC has 15 member countries in the southern African region.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba of the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization opened the SADC Summit, saying that SADC has an historic opportunity to accomplish poverty eradication, food security, job creation, gender equality and an end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe visited the People’s Republic of China prior to the SADC Summit and announced that the socialist state would provide yet another aid package for Zimbabwe valued at $15.2 million. The aid will consist of the establishment of a financial institution to facilitate trade, agricultural support and implementation of a framework for enacting previous agreements by the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation.
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