RAPAPORT… Global Witness welcomed the European Union’s (EU) decision to keep the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) on the list of sanctioned businesses, at least for now. One week ago, the group requested the EU add Zimbabwe-based diamond-mining company Anjin and Hong Kong-based businessman Sam Pa to the list of restricted entities, but EU foreign ministers yesterday did not oblige. Instead, the ministers voted to ease travel restrictions on six politicians and released 21 citizens and one company from the sanctions list, citing Zimbabwe’s progress toward a final draft constitution and the scheduling of presidential elections.
Nonetheless, Global Witness warned the EU today that there were now gaps in the sanctions list, which could result in diamond revenue funding President Robert Mugabe’s military.
Reaction from Zimbabwe, meanwhile, was blunt in that the EU vote — only easing restrictions on a few citizens, rather than all — was a meaningless gesture.
Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, told the state-run Herald newspaper that the EU vote was ”obviously designed to divide and rule. As long as one Zimbabwean is under sanctions, then the whole country is under sanctions. The sanctions should be removed in totality and unconditionally. These efforts to try and divide us will never work.”
Global Witness’ diamonds campaigner, Emily Armistead, said, ”It’s good news that sanctions against ZMDC will be maintained. Global Witness’ investigations point to a serious risk that diamond revenue could be used to fund violence in this year’s election. Maintaining sanctions against ZMDC will limit that flow of cash. However, the EU could have gone further to prevent diamond revenues funding ZANU-PF security forces. In particular, we are concerned that Zimbabwe’s largest diamond company, Anjin, is part-owned by the military but is not covered by restrictive measures.”
Belgium allegedly led the cause to drop sanctions against ZMDC, to which Global Witness charged that the country had placed the special interests of its ”diamond traders over Zimbabwean democracy.”
EU ministers did agree, however, that if a new constitution is presented in Zimbabwe, as planned, in March, there could be additional entities removed from the restrictive measures list.
Global Witness and others tied joint-venture diamond-mining companies in the Marange region with Mugabe loyalists in the military, police and intelligence organizations who were responsible for brutal violence and murder in 2008 and 2009.
”European diamond companies must carry out checks on their supply chains to make sure their purchases are not fueling risks of human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Member states should enforce the restrictive measures and ensure they are applied to polished diamonds entering the EU,” Armistead said.
The group charges that Anjin and Pa are financing Zimbabwe’s military, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) specifically designed to support Mugabe’s control. Global Witness withdrew from the Kimberley Process in 2011 when the global body refused to recognize Zimbabwe’s diamonds were directly funding human rights abuses.