RAPAPORT… Zimbabwean human rights activist Farai Maguwu has urged jewelers and consumers to be vigilant to verify the source of their diamond purchases. Maguwu endorsed the Rapaport Group’s ethical pledge that was launched this week.
“We are fully behind the ethical jewelry campaign to make sure that the international jewelry community is aware of where their diamonds are coming from,” Maguwu told the Rapaport Las Vegas Conference.
Rapaport Group honored Maguwu with an award recognizing his work in advocating human rights in Zimbabwe. Martin Rapaport, the chairman of the Rapaport Group, acknowledged the extent to which Maguwu has risked his life to protect the lives, freedom and human rights of diamond diggers at Zimbabwe’s Marange mines.
Rapaport launched its ethical pledge at the conference urging members of the diamond and jewelry trade to insist on written assurances in their purchases. The pledge would ensure that sellers have investigated their sources, and that the products offered are free of human rights violations, significant environmental damage, illegal activities, or sanctions by U.S. or E.U. governments.
Such sourcing would exclude Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, where the mines are part owned by Zimbabwean government agencies, which are sanctioned in the U.S. and E.U.
Maguwu noted that while the struggle to end human rights violations at Marange is being won, problems associated with Marange diamonds are far from over. He explained that the biggest challenge currently is to ensure that revenue from Marange production goes to the treasury and is used to benefit Zimbabwe’s people.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a senior member of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is in a coalition government with Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, has reported that not all funds from the country’s diamond exports are being received by the treasury.
Maguwu outlined concerns that funds are being channeled to Mugabe and his military personnel, and may be used to fund Mugabe’s prospective presidential campaign. While Mugabe has not set a date for elections, reports indicate he is hoping to do so before the end of the year. Previous campaigns have been marred by violence and intimidation.
Maguwu cautioned that diamond revenues may be contributing to people who are using the funds to cling to power, and to human rights violations elsewhere in the country.
Zimbabwe this week participated in the Kimberley Process intersessional meeting in Washington DC.