Zim PM urges transparent diamond trade

2012-02-17 18:51

Arda Transau - Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Friday called for openness in the country's nascent diamond trade, getting under way after the lifting of a global ban over rights abuses.

"We must show transparency in the way we exploit this resource, the way we market it and the way we benefit for all of our very wide-range challenges we face as a country," Tsvangirai told journalists as he wrapped up a tour of mines in the Marange diamond fields.

Zimbabwe expects to rake in $600m from diamond sales this year, after the global watchdog Kimberley Process lifted a ban that was imposed over military abuses in the fields.

The military is under President Robert Mugabe's control in Zimbabwe's fragile power-sharing government, and despite fears that diamond profits could be siphoned off, Tsvangirai said the gems should be a blessing for Zimbabwe.

"Some people have turned oil discoveries into a successful economic take-off for their countries," he said.

"But Africa has always experienced a curse when it comes to the discovery of diamonds. I think we cannot say the same for Zimbabwe. I don't think the discovery of diamonds is a curse. I think it's a blessing for our country."

Tsvangirai has said the government needs diamond revenue to rebuild the nation. Since the unity government was formed three years ago, the economy has begun growing again, after contracting for years.

Human rights abuses

But the government is struggling to increase salaries for its workers who staged stayaway protests last month to push for a doubling of their salaries and improved working conditions.

Human Rights Watch alleges that Mugabe's army killed more than 200 people two years after the 2006 discovery of the diamond fields in an operation to clear small-scale miners from the area.

The Kimberley Process, founded to stop the trade in so-called "blood diamonds", has come under fire from activists for being soft on abuses in Marange.

The United States in 2008 slapped sanctions on two firms mining in the eastern region, Marange Resources and Mbada, which are mining at the scene of alleged human rights abuses, while powerful US-based diamond trading group Rapaport has boycotted all Marange gems.

All the firms are jointly owned by the Zimbabwean government and foreign investors.

  • Francois - 2012-02-17 19:08

    Tsvangirai, it is a pity you sold out your people for a couple of dollars. After three years, your speech contains too many "musts" and "shoulds". Why is it not the case? Why do we not hear you call onto Mbeki to say to him to say to the world that what is happening is not what was agreed? Why are you not marching with all the MDC supporters to Harare to defy Mugabe? After roundabout the ten thousandth killing even Mbeki will hear the rifle shots, light a pipe, smoke, smile and say: "Viva an African solution for an African problem" and the the F14s will be flying over Zim, but they will not come from Africa....

  • Nic - 2012-02-17 20:13

    Another Sandy Shaw song (sp) A puppet on a string. The toothless mugabe barks, and Tsvangirai runs away with his tail between his legs. Unfortunately, zanu-PF have no worries this election. Morgan, you did sell the population down the river.

      alansmartSnr - 2012-02-17 23:32

      @ Nick and Frncious..I am very anti Zimbabwe with all the antics of Mugabe but I can't aggree about Tsvangirai. He, for years was persecuted by the Zanu PF. He suffered jail sentences, and twice had to flee for his life to Zambia. Stretching it a bit he was in a position much like our own Madiba. He knocked on SA's door for help but in vain even while our farmers there were fleeing for their lives. Do a bit of research and I'm sure you'll change your mind. He's still a jnr partner in their government but he still has loyalty to his country and is trying his best to improve things

      Francois - 2012-02-18 07:12

      Alan, maybe you are not so smart if you cannot cut and paste of type a person's name correctly even if it is listed above your comment box, but let us not go into that for too long. I did not say he alone must walk to Mugabe, he can actually drive in his new car. I implied that his tactics to present did not work, he refers to Utopia in his speeches and he expects South Africans to the job for him and his supporters whereas in Egypt and Tunisia and Libya, the people did the job themselves, hence he must take all his supporters and start marching. The odd rape here and there and the illegal imprisonment here and there and the famine is overlooked by the West as they will just drop a few food parcels there. If Zim wants to change course, it is up for the people of Zim to take their future into their hands and not make condoning statements about blood diamonds. Tsvangirai, may have been beaten, but now he is playing the role of Mugabe's bunny.

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