Zimbabwe Mission Update

Notice the difference
between the comments
I printed last week
from Ian Smillie about the recent KP monitoring mission
.. 

[The Review Mission was] dogged at every step by secret police; they
were insulted and abused by the [Zimbabwe mining] Minister; the promised
forensic audit of the old stockpile was not done; the plan to appoint an NGO
person to accompany [KP monitor Abbey] Chikane has been scrapped – or at least
has been understood by the minister as the appointment of someone he
chooses.  … [T]here was plenty of evidence of illicit diamonds;

… and what was printed in Idex shortly after

The
Kimberley Process Review Mission to Zimbabwe found little to no evidence of any
wrong doing at the two diamond mines in the Marange diamond fields … [T]he army
pulled out of the mine areas and is now stationed outside the fences, as
required by KP. Some extra investigations by at least two members of the review
mission looking for evidence of any foul play found nothing. However – the one
big issue was a forensic audit that was supposed to be carried out by the
government on its stockpile. It was not done, and this is a big mistake on
their part. 

So here we have two perspectives,
both based on Mission sources (Smillie wasn’t a participant), which don’t necessarily
negate each other but don’t seem to agree either. Whether you see the lack of
stockpile audit as a “mistake” or something more sinister (and enough to halt further exports) depends, I guess, on
how much you trust the current government of Zimbabwe to fulfill its KP
obligations. 

All this brings up a sad
fact: The recent review mission was fraught with friction. It is
over-simplifying things to divide the mission into “pro-“ and “anti-“ Zimbabwe camps;
everyone on it was a professional and well-informed about the issues involved.
Among the mission participants was Chaim Even-Zohar, representing the World
Diamond Council, who wrote a little bit about his Zimbabwe perspective here, and
Kennedy Hamutenya of Namibia, who threatened to pull his country out of the KP
if Marange diamond exports were not permitted. There were also persistent Zimbabwe critics on the team, including representatives of Global Witness and Green Advocates Liberia, who felt their access was obstructed
by government authorities. (Although the non-NGOs said the “shadowing”
was minor.)

Several participants I spoke to agreed that things have substantially improved “in the fences” (the
mining areas) and beyond. That doesn’t mean things are perfect, but the fact that
they have gotten so much better is something we should all be happy about —
indeed, without the KP, the violence in the Marange fields might still be
ongoing. One participant even called it a “great day for the KP. It shows that
the pressure exerted on Zimbabwe has worked.”

Yet not everyone fully agrees,
and writing the final report, which needs to be a “consenus” document, could be
a difficult process. In fact, this mission may turn out to be an unfortunate milestone.
The tensions on the team show the entire process has become more politicized.
This was perhaps inevitable when the KP started to look at human rights issues. 

One final note: A subject
that was not really looked at by the review mission, yet has received
considerable international
press attention
, is the question of where the money from these diamond
sales is going. Obviously, a lot of entities linked to Mugabe were involved in the recent diamond sale.
This subject is way outside the KP’s mandate, but most diamond people wouldn’t
want to think they are propping up the Mugabe regime. Even though we are
venturing into very politically fraught territory, it’s possible that
transparency issues related to this question could be looked at when the Joint
Work Plan is reformulated at the KP Plenary in November in Israel. 

JCK News Director