Chikane’s visit came as he was preparing an interim progress report for the KPCS inter-sessional meeting to be held this month and the Kimberley Process Review Mission which will be conducted in terms of the Joint Work Plan. The KPCS monitor was also preparing his final report on Zimbabwe ahead of the plenary scheduled for November.
KPCS participating countries and industry and civil society observers gather twice a year at inter-sessional and plenary meetings, as well as in working groups and committees that meet on a regular basis.
Although Chikane last week received full cooperation from stakeholders, including government, his visit also triggered a fresh outburst by President Robert Mugabe who threatened to “pull out if necessary” from the KPCS. Besides, government arrested officials from the diamond watchdog, Centre for Research and Development (CRD), in Mutare, for merely telling the truth to Chikane.
CRD officials spoke about the need for a transparent tendering process in issuing diamond mining contracts, rampant smuggling and the theft and human rights abuses at the Chiadzwa diamonds fields. That provoked the wrath of Mugabe’s security apparatus which has interests in Chiadzwa diamonds.
But the most unhelpful development was Mugabe’s continued threats to pull out of the KPCS. This was not the first time he has issued such threats. He did so recently and seems determined to continue doing so even at such a critical juncture for Zimbabwe in terms of the Chiadzwa diamond trade. The same threats have been echoed by Mines minister Obert Mpofu.
Mugabe’s threats once again reminded us how much of a liability he has become to the country. He is just out of touch and most of the time off message. Whenever he speaks, either he is threatening someone, spewing venom or just emitting hot air.
By stubbornly clinging to his failed policies and sterile rhetoric, Mugabe is showing that he has not adapted to the new politics of consensus in town and still remains handcuffed to the past while conveniently forgetting the damage he inflicted on the country at the zenith of his corrupt and incompetent rule.
Apparently he still thinks the world owes him a living and his word is their command — the height of delusional thinking. Instead of ensuring his government fully cooperates with the KPCS to guarantee Zimbabwe complies with its minimum requirements, Mugabe thinks he can use threats to get his way.
That won’t happen. Zimbabwe simply needs to fully comply or else it will be frozen out of the process and suffer in the midst of plenty. The country would lose revenues and that would undermine economic recovery.
Mugabe and his lackeys must not delude themselves. Zimbabwe needs the KPCS. The KPCS remains the only international system that has successfully responded to conflict resource issues worldwide. It has drastically reduced resource-induced conflicts on the continent and can contribute to political and economic stability in a fragile state like Zimbabwe.
Since the KPCS is open to all countries that are willing and able to implement its requirements, Zimbabwe must ensure its full participation in it to reap the benefits.
Most importantly, as of December last year, the KPCS had 49 members, representing 75 countries, with the European Community and its member states counting as an individual participant. It accounted for approximately 99,8% of the global production of rough diamonds and enjoys the support of the biggest diamond mining company in the world, De Beers.
The World Diamond Council, representing the international diamond industry and civil society organisations, is involved. Zimbabwe cannot successfully operate outside the KPCS. Mugabe must understand this.
The KPCS is chaired, on a rotating basis, by participating countries. So far, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Botswana, the European Community, India and Namibia have chaired it and Israel is currently the chair.
As such, government must cooperate with the KPCS if it really wants to be a serious player in international diamond trade. Circumventing the KPCS, smuggling diamonds to Dubai, and pillaging is neither sustainable nor desirable.
By Dumisani Muleya