A section of Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) in the diamond-rich Chiadzwa area claim that it was barred from making presentations to the Kimberley Process (KP) team which was in the country on a review exercise last week.
This comes amid growing concern from civic society over the perceived lack of transparency shrouding Zimbabwe’s diamond mining operations and management of revenue generated from sales.
Startling disclosure by former President Robert Mugabe indicated in 2016 that Zimbabwe had lost a staggering US$15 billion from diamond leakages. The claims were, however, never proved.
The Kimberley Process and Certification Scheme(KPCS),which granted Zimbabwe the greenlight to market its diamonds in 2010 was in the country last week, nearly a decade after it conducted its last review on the southern African country’s mining operations.
Prior to Zimbabwe earning the KP’s approval, diamond mining in Chiadzwa was mired in controversy including widespread reports of smuggling and rampant human rights abuse by state security agents.
Last week’s visit by the KP saw the Cecil Khosa-led team touring operations run by state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Bocha Diamond Community Trust (BDCT) leader Moses Mukwada this week told the Independent that his outfit, alongside several other CBOs, though invited to the KP meeting organised by ZCDC, were not given the opportunity to raise their concerns to the review team.
“We were not given time to present our concerns to the visiting KP team. Our expectation was that CBOs were going to be given time to make their presentation but that did not happen.
“What happened is that ZCDC had its programme where they presented what they are doing in the area. And once that was done, they left to inspect a dip tank renovated by ZCDC and a two-roomed house they renovated. That is all they showed KP,” Mukwada said.
Chronicling how the KP tour in Chiadzwa was conducted, leading up to a meeting that was later held at a hotel in Harare, Mukwada said ZCDC had formed its own CBOs, which gave favourable accounts about the company before the review team.
He added that his organisation was not invited to the Harare meeting.
“ZCDC has formed a parallel structure of CBOs which speaks on its behalf. There was no genuine CBO which made a presentation. We would have preferred it if the KP team had met community members,” he said.
If CBOs were given the platform to make presentations, Mukwada said his outfit was going to alert KP that the community has not benefited “anything” from the extraction of diamonds.
“The community has not benefited anything from the diamonds; even the country itself since 2007. We are lobbying for sustainable mining projects that will ensure the continuity of life even after the diamonds are exhausted. There must be some change,” he added
“Zimbabwe has been certified by KP but truly it does not qualify. For as long as monetary proceeds from the diamonds remain unaccounted for we may never know anything. Maybe the money is used to buy weapons. We do not know. As a community we do not know how money from the diamonds is being used.”
However, Zimbabwe Disaster Relief Agency (ZDRA) focal person, Hardwork Mukwadu said the CBOs were adequately represented during the KP visit.
ZDRA is a private voluntary organisation (PVO) in Marange.
“There are nine functional CBOs which we work with in Marange relating to diamond mining matters. All of them were invited to the KP meetings,” Mukwadu said.
Interestingly, Mukwadu said Bocha Diamond Community Trust, fronted by Mukwada “participated” during meetings held with the KP.
Apart from Bocha Diamond Community Trust, according to Mukwadu, some of the nine organisations which participated in the KP meetings include Chiadzwa Community Development Trust and Marange Development Trust led by Newman Chiadzwa and Malvern Mudiwa Marange Development Trust chairperson.
Mudiwa when contacted for comment said concern over “illicit financial flows” relating to diamond proceeds remains a key challenge.
“I am also one of those directly affected by mining activities in Marange. I am part of the communities listed for relocation since my homestead is inside the ZCDC concession.
“The concerns and recommendations that were raised by CBOs present was that whilst the security systems have improved in terms of restrictions of movement, dog bites, physical human harm, measures to curb illicit financial flows need improvement. This can be achieved by working closely with communities. There were cases of effluent discharge in Odzi and Save rivers that have since been rectified with all parties in agreement,” Mudiwa said.
Questions sent to the KP visiting delegation leader Khosa via email to probe, among other matters, whether the review team engaged with CBOs had not been answered by the time of going to print.
ZCDC chief executive Mark Mabhudhu did not respond to questions sent to him via WhatsApp.
Following the KP visit to Zimbabwe, the review team is expected to issue a report on its findings. – (The Independent)