By Tafadzwa Masango
WHEN diamonds where ‘discovered’ in Chiadzwa, after De Beers had, for years, been carting them out by the truckload under the guise of research and exploration, diamond experts observed that the Chiadzwa diamonds would catapult Zimbabwe into one of the top diamond producers in the world.
According to estimates then, it was expected that the Chiadzwa discovery would see Zimbabwe producing at least about 25 percent of the world’s diamonds.
For any country, the discovery of such diamonds should have been good news, but alas, for Zimbabwe, it was bad news, as once again those fighting against us saw this as yet another avenue to throw spanners on any plans to develop the country! The Chiadzwa diamonds are of major concern to the West; particularly the US because of their huge potential as a sanctions buster and, thus, an impediment to regime change.
Lest we forget, after De Beers’ shenanigans, it was shut out of the country and Zimbabwe became the only diamond producing country in Africa where De Beers is not sticking its thieving hands into the diamond pot.
The resource curse and sanctions
Most countries that have successfully resisted regime change by stealth are serious oil producers whose economies were spurred by high oil prices.
Angola, for one, fought a Western-sponsored insurgency for over 15 years and came out victorious because of its diamond and oil-rich economy.
If one then connects the dots, the West fears that if Zimbabwe benefits from its diamonds, sanctions will be rendered ineffective and ZANU PF will continue to be difficult to dislodge.
It is no surprise that this new tactic by the US, to deny Zimbabwe access to diamond markets, comes as the Alrosa deal is coming into fruition.
It can be recalled that in July this year, the Russian diamond company Alrosa signed a deal to explore and mine diamonds in Zimbabwe.
Alrosa is the world leader in diamond mining and such a partnership is expected to see Zimbabwe leverage its mineral resources to boost the ailing economy.
The coming in of Alrosa under the new dispensation is expected to bring sanity and streamline operations to bring transparency and accountability in the sector.
Zimbabwe’s ‘crimes’ in the diamond sector begin with the cardinal sin of throwing out De Beers.
De Beers was founded by Cecil John Rhodes in 1888 in South Africa.
By 1941, over 90 percent of the world’s diamonds were being produced in Africa and controlled by De Beers.
The discovery of the world’s biggest diamond deposits at Chiadzwa meant that De Beers found itself in serious competition with Zimbabwe in terms of determining supply of diamonds on the international market.
De Beers lost some of its traditional leverage of stockpiling, reducing or cutting off production completely, in order to control supply and keep the price of diamonds high on the international market.
Simply put, Zimbabwe once again pulled the rug from under its economic oppressors.
The land was taken from the control of 4 500 white farmers and distributed to hundreds of thousands of black families.
Then control of diamonds in the country was taken from the control of the colonial company back into the hands of the people, through Government.
As if that was not enough, Zimbabwe then goes into partnership with a Russian company, cutting out the West from the huge deposit.
We all know that Western capitals do not like it when ‘natives on the dark continent’ spurn them and start messing up with their corporate profit margins.
That is when they organise assassinations, civil wars and other nasty business to ensure they continue to have access to cheap raw materials and resources in the developing world.
The US anti-Zimbabwe diamond campaign
One would think the Brits would have led the campaign to politicise Zimbabwe’s diamonds on the international scene, given that it was De Beers that lost out in Chiadzwa.
But, once again, the US, the ‘big brother’, is found leading the charge against Zimbabwe’s quest for economic development.
Each and every smear campaign and attempt to stop the trading of Zimbabwe’s diamonds can be traced to some US organisations and the US Government itself:
The attempts to water down the Kimberly Process definition of conflict diamond was intended to ensure that the definition is tweaked to an extent that the Chiadzwa diamonds would not be traded on the official market.
The attempts to ‘sanitise’ illegal diamond panners in Chiadzwa by calling them artisanal miners, in a bid to give them mining rights there by shutting out the Zimbabwe Government from controlling the mining and trade of the diamonds. Nowhere in the world do you have people mining willy-nilly without registration and authorisation, and yet the US, through organisations it paid, lobbied for this in Chiadzwa.
Of note is the Centre for Research and Development (CRD), which was established in Mutare soon after the ‘discovery’ of the Chiadzwa diamonds.
Its director, Farai Maguwu has, from then, gone on to become an infamous figure used to campaign against the trade of Zimbabwean diamonds on the international market.
CRD was set up to specifically to generate and disseminate (dis)information on the Chiadzwa diamonds that would make them pass for ‘blood diamonds’.
Maguwu has, time-and-again, produced fictitious and doctored reports narrating alleged atrocities he claimed were happening on the mining fields.
The bulk of the alleged victims were never named ‘for fear of reprisals from the authorities’ and the few cases that do have real victims are used to pass off the other 90 percent cases that would not have taken place.
Maguwu is the proverbial ‘Trojan horse’.
His CRD received over US$30 000 from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 2009 to ‘enhance awareness of civil and political rights in Manicaland Province, particularly among women, youth and traditional leaders’.
Manicaland was important to NED for two reasons. First, it is the province that hosts the Chiadzwa diamonds. Second, it is a province where the MDC had performed very well in the 2008 elections.
In this respect, Manicaland, in the assessment of the US, was a ‘liberated’ zone where anti-ZANU PF activities had to be consolidated.
The forced labour lie
So, this week, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on diamonds from Marange. Apparently the diamonds were allegedly ‘mined by forced labour’.
The Forced Labour Division within the CPB leads agency enforcement efforts prohibiting the importation of goods made using forced labour.
CBP receives allegations of forced labour from various sources, including the general public.
It would be very interesting to find out who the source of the information was and how the US authenticated these lies.
With the amount of money being poured into the anti-Zimbabwe campaign, if forced labour was being used in the Marange fields, we surely would not be hearing about it from a little unknown office in the US Customs.
We would have heard about it from the usual ‘cashvists’, the paid media and the civil society orgainisations by now.
I bet some of them are kicking themselves right now for not having thought about using this lie, yet.
Most have been busy with the fake abductions these last few weeks.
Interestingly, the chief suspect, Maguwu, has said his organisation is: “Not aware of cases of forced labour in Marange.
This is mainly because artisanal miners go to Marange voluntarily.”
So, the question remains: If the chief go-to-guy for the anti-Zimbabwe diamonds lobby has rubbished this latest lie, who is responsible for it?