EU sanctions: An exposure of West’s arrogance

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THE attitude exhibited by the European Union (EU) during the announcement by an unnamed EU diplomat that the bloc had begun the process of delisting the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) shows Western arrogance that the people of this country have become accustomed to.
While in their thinking, the EU believes they are doing Zimbabwe a favour by removing the widely discredited sanctions, the reality is that it is them who stand to benefit the most from the country’s resources.
Events in the past few weeks have shown that Zimbabwe is not short of investors due to its strategic location, good climate and the abundant resources at her disposal.
ZMDC, which was among the many state enterprises targeted when the EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe on February 18 2002 is in joint venture partnerships with diamond mining companies at Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Last week Reuters quoted the unnamed diplomat who arrogantly said the EU had ‘begun the process of delisting’ ZMDC pending ‘formalisation’ by the regional bloc’s foreign ministers.
What the diplomat deliberately chose to ignore was the fact that the scrapping of the sanctions followed Belgium’s call for the removal of sanctions in the wake of Zimbabwe’s widely endorsed polls.
Brussels is the centre of the global diamond trade and home to Antwerp which is the world’s leading diamond trading hub.
Belgium alongside other European nations and the rest of the Western world had been sucked in by Britain which was involved in a bilateral dispute with Harare to impose illegal economic sanctions on the Southern African nation.
But following statistics from Kitco, a Canadian firm that buys and sells precious minerals, which said nearly 60 diamond mining firms around the world which include Zimbabwean ones at Marange fields, are this year expected to account for 84 percent of this year’s projected global output of 130 million carats there has been panic.
“According to Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation projections, Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields are expected to produce 16,9 million carats in 2013, which would make the project the largest in the world in terms of carats produced annually,” Kitco said in the report.
“Partnership Africa Canada, a non-profit organisation, estimates that production from Marange fields would be as high as 30 to 40 million carats annually.”
Zimbabwe is the fourth largest diamond-producing nation in the world, and the Marange fields represent almost all of the nation’s production.
Other reputable diamond authorities have predicted that Zimbabwe’s vast reserves are set to command 25 percent of the international market.
ZMDC is in partnerships with five diamond mining companies at Chiadzwa, whose operations have all been certified by the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a development that flies in the face of claims by the EU bloc that the Chiadzwa gems fall in the ambit of conflict diamonds.
The joint-venture mines in the Marange diamond fields produced a combined eight million carats last year and generated US$684,5 million in exports.
Of the US$684,5 million, Mbada Diamonds contributed US$308,3 million, followed by Anjin with US$209,9 million, Diamond Mining Corporation US$100,8 million and Marange Resources a total of US$236 317.
This year Zimbabwe is expected to produce 17 million carats making it the leading diamond producer in the world.
There is no doubt that it is these statistics and immense investment opportunities in Zimbabwe that have prompted the EU to remove the sanctions.
Despite creating the impression that they are doing Zimbabwe a favour, Western countries are readying themselves for the vast investment opportunities in the country.
They are no doubt seriously taking the advice of one of their ‘leading’ thinkers, Stephen Chan who said Britain will have engaged Zimbabwe by Christmas this year but indications are that it may be sooner rather than later.
A fortnight ago, a leading British newspaper, The Financial Times, urged the United Kingdom to engage President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF or risk losing out on the various investment opportunities in Zimbabwe.
In an opinion piece titled ‘Emboldened by Economic Recovery, Africa has a new voice’, Michael Holman, the paper’s former African editor, said it was time that the West set aside old scores and took a fresh look at Zimbabwe.
“And as the prime mover in a strategy that has failed to deliver after a decade of trying, Britain should take the lead in an effort to break the deadlock and recover its influence in a country at the strategic heart of southern Africa,” reads the article in part.
“Unpalatable though it is, President Robert Mugabe has emerged from his country’s recent election with more than his domestic power consolidated and the opposition in disarray. He has been welcomed back into the African fold by the very leaders the West had been hoping would denounce the conduct of July’s election – (Mr) Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, and (General) Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s former president and head of the African Union group of election observers.”
It is interesting to note that Belgium’s gemstone industry has weakened over the past few years, with more and more stones being shipped to India and China for cutting and polishing.
While the removal of the sanctions is a welcome development, some, including Global Witness, claim that President Mugabe used existing diamond revenues ‘to pay for a campaign of suppression ahead of the vote this summer’.
“The EU has rushed its decision to delist ZMDC before the dust has settled on Zimbabwe’s flawed elections,” said Global Witness Senior Campaigner Emily Armistead.
“Our research indicates that ZANU-PF and the military have siphoned revenues from ZMDC’s diamond ventures and that this may have financed the alleged rigging of the recent poll.”
On the other hand, the United States asserts on the website of its embassy in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare that ‘US sanctions are not blocking Zimbabwe’s economic recovery,’ and that its policy specifically targets ‘individuals and entities that have undermined democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe’.
How ZMDC has ‘undermined’ the so-called ‘democratic’ processes or institutions in Zimbabwe still remains a mystery to many progressive minds.
American sanctions against Zimbabwe were first instituted in 2001 in response to the land reform programme that President Mugabe began to implement at the turn of the millennium.
Let those with ears listen.

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