RAPAPORT… Special interest leaks from the European Union (EU) signaled that the governing body would be lifting sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which controls Zimbabwe’s minerals, next month. However, an official statement on the details and timing had not been released as of press time.
The U.S. continues sanctions on ZMDC as well as on the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), Marange Resources and Mbada Diamonds, meaning that U.S. businesses are forbidden to trade diamonds or minerals that fund, in any way, those companies or President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Belgium has been fiercely lobbying the EU since January to lift sanctions on ZMDC. The EU relaxed sanctions on some individuals in Zimbabwe in March and adopted a resolution to review sanctions on the ZMDC only after the passage of Zimbabwe’s constitution, which occurred in May, and a smooth presidential election in July. It appears, at this stage, that the EU will maintain sanctions on Mugabe and nine of his associates.
Global Witness immediately criticized the EU, saying that Europe rushed to a decision without weighing evidence.
“Our research indicates that ZANU-PF and the military have siphoned revenue from ZMDC’s diamond ventures and that this may have financed the alleged rigging of the recent poll,” said the group’s senior campaigner, Emily Armistead.
“There are credible indications that at least one ZMDC joint venture company helped fund ZANU-PF activities, which have undermined the democratic process in Zimbabwe. The EU should have given more time to investigating these claims before lifting sanctions. Now it will be left to European consumers and jewelry companies to ensure that Zimbabwe’s tainted diamonds are not sold in our shops.”