State Diamond mining entity, Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (Pvt) Ltd, has tendered for an independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses at its Chiadzwa diamond mines in light of a new anti-Zimbabwe diamonds lobby.
The lobby is being spearheaded by a local non-governmental organisation, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) and has a potential to derail efforts to upscale diamond mining, which has seen Government invest $80 million in capitalising ZCDC as it comes ahead of the Kimberly Process (KP) intersessional meetings scheduled for Antwerp, Belgium from June 18 to 22.
The annual KP meetings bring together diamond producing countries, industry representatives and civil society members and are a platform for discussions on the implementation of the KP Certification Scheme (KPCS).
ZCDC, which has insisted that its operations are in accordance with Zimbabwean laws and was applauded by the KPCS for the way it resolved the diamond rash, has tendered for an investigator and will allow any other such investigations by the KPCS into its Chiadzwa operations.
“ZCDC has tendered for an independent private investigator to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses,” chief executive officer Dr Moris Mpofu told this publication in an interview.
“Because of our business strategy which seeks to achieve transparency and accountability, ZCDC is open to scrutiny by KPCS or other watchdogs to visit our Mine to investigate and assess things on the ground.
“In all our mining operations we are guided and wholly subscribe to KPCS requirements and continue to ensure that there is total compliance to these requirements,” said Dr Mpofu.
Despite the tranquillity in the Chiadzwa/Marange communities, in its letter to the KP chair, Hilde Hardeman, the CNRG through its executive director – Farai Maguwu – alleges that Zimbabwean diamonds fall short of the KPCS’s conflict free test.
He goes on to chronicle a litany of sensational human rights abuses which he alleges are committed by the state miner calling on the KPCS to act on them, action of which will result in Zimbabwe being kicked out of the well-knit diamond marketing industry.
ZCDC has previously had problems with the agitated Chaidzwa/Marange community which feels that it has not benefited much from the mining of diamonds in their area.
The company is however engaging with the community and even continued to do so after demonstration at its Chiadzwa mine.
“Since the demonstrations we have held meetings with the Community and after the MOU with Marange Development Trust, other Trusts such as Bocha Community Trust have also indicated interest to enter into similar arrangements with ZCDC,” said Dr Mpofu.
“CNRG will also be meeting ZCDC to work out same MOU arrangements. We are taking an engagement approach because as a state owned entity we have community development and environmental care as core tenets of our business model.
“Apart from the Special Grant we hold, we need a social and environmental licence to mine diamonds for the benefit of the nation. We have complied so far with the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and we are now working on the social licence with the community,” he said.
Despite these efforts, not much of ZCDC’s produce has been released to the market for both fiscal and community benefit since the company took a decision to suspend diamond sales to address marketing bottle necks as well as cleaning of the precious stones.
This year alone the company has only realised $829 067 from a local auction in line with meeting Government’s regulation of selling 10 percent of its produce locally and as at 30 April this year, was seating on 2, 516 million carats which could earn the fiscus hundreds of millions.
Of the 2 516 million carats (503kg)stockpiled, 1 million carats (200kg) were produced in the first quota thus putting the miner in good stead towards achieving its annual target of 3 million carats (600kg) by end of year.