AFRICANGLOBE – Western countries have launched a fresh bid to block the sale of Zimbabwe diamonds using the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, sources close to the Dubai Diamond industry have confided. The sources warned that Zimbabwe’s stand-off with the West over the exploitation of its diamonds is far from over, even after the West suffered repeated setbacks in past Kimberly Process summits.
Western efforts, the sources said, now aimed at using the 34-member strong OECD to pressure the jewellery industry worldwide from sourcing diamonds from targeted countries, principally Zimbabwe.
“The battle is not over. There are still situations meant to disallow Zimbabwe diamonds from trading. But we are there for you. We ask Western powers that as they make rules on African minerals, they cannot make them without Africa getting involved,” the source said.
The OECD was founded in 1960 when 20 countries originally signed its founding convention. All of the founding nations are Western, mostly European, with the exception of America.
Since then, another 14 have joined, with only three — Chile, Turkey and Mexico — coming close to being Third World and part of the KPCS process membership.
Apart from Israel, other newly admitted members come from the former Eastern bloc countries, whose admission is linked to the West’s larger geo-strategic calculation.
From 2007, talks with BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa) and Indonesia have been dragging on and on around the OECD’s maze of membership rules.
Since then, these countries have only been offered a programme of “enhanced engagement”, well short of actual membership. Contrastively, the KPCS has 81 countries which translate to 54 participants.
The EU as a bloc counts as a single participant, with the majority of KPCS members coming from diamond producing countries of Africa.
The West’s new strategy of using the OECD puts the matter beyond both the Kimberly process, and its many African producers of diamond who are not members of the OECD. Well grounded reports indicate that South Africa which is a member of the KPCS has already raised a protest letter with the Secretary General of the OECD on the matter, arguing the West cannot raise new rules for the world diamond industry without the involvement of producer nations who whilst not belonging to the OECD, are in the majority and real owners of the diamond resources.
Reacting to this disclosure, the President hit out at the West’s double standards in dealing with African and Third World countries. He said: “All along the Kimberly Process was running without problems. But the moment Zimbabwe discovered diamonds, then those opposed to Zimbabwe wanted to inhibit and prohibit the selling of her diamonds…. Those with their evil thoughts sought to ruin us. They will still want to ruin processes which benefit our country. They don’t give up. You defeat them in one area, they move on to another.”
He noted that the new rules and regulations which the west was developing were meant to inhibit the marketing of Zimbabwe’s valuable mineral commodities. He adverted to recent divisions within the EU over the sale of Zimbabwean diamonds where some EU countries, led by Belgium, opposed further sanctions on Zimbabwe diamonds.
“Belgium won the fight, to the chagrin and disappointment of Britain, and we have conducted two auctions there”, President Mugabe said.
Commenting for the first time on Zimbabwe’s recent boycott of the EU-Africa Summit, the President light-heartedly noted: “In Belgium they do much more than the selling of diamonds. Recently they also hosted the EU-Africa Summit and initially, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe which produces diamonds was not invited. Later, they changed heart and he got invited conditionally: he could come, but not with his wife. But I am married and my priest said you are now one (pointing at the First Lady). The priest further said what God has put together, let no man put asunder! I could not see how I could go there and leave behind this other me!”
To laughter and in an apostrophic address to the Europeans, he added: “You who fought so successfully for our diamonds to come (to Belgium), why didn’t you fight for Mugabe to come there too? … I am not married to diamonds, mind you. I bought her (First Lady) that ring; she bought me this one. It has one little diamond. She said that is what she could afford, but added: “it does not matter as long as I have your heart. It is a big diamond.”’
The President was accompanied on the tour by the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe, his daughter Bona and her husband Simba Chikore, Zimbabwe’s Kuwait-based Ambassador Marongwe, who is also accredited to the United Arab Emirates, and senior Government officials who include the Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joey Bimha. Also in attendance was Dr Robert Mhlanga of Mbada Diamonds and Mr Abu-Ali Imad of DMC. The tour which was meant to familiarise the President with diamond auction processes, lasted the whole afternoon. The President also hinted that Zimbabwe would soon engage the UAE authorities towards easing travel arrangements between the two countries.