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The Kimberley Process Dance with Zimbabwe

Changes brought about by KPCS involvement in Zimbabwe

Compiled by Shamiso Mtisi-Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (KPCSC Coordinator)

The story continues

It is important to note that the long dispute between Zimbabwe and the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition (KPCS) revolved around attempts by some observers, particularly civil society and some participants to make sure that the KPCS enforces its standards to curb smuggling of diamonds, illegal mining and human rights abuses by both state and non-state actors. However, while many people were disappointed by the failures of the KPCS in Zimbabwe, there were also a number of changes and effects of its decisions that would qualify it as an enforcer, but largely weak, of the KPCS minimum requirements.  

The decision by the KPCS to send in the first Review Mission in 2009 exposed the situation in Marange to the international community and helped to highlight the human rights violations, smuggling and illegality in Marange. Secondly, the adoption of the (Joint Work Plan)JWP also helped Zimbabwe to adopt measures that without the JWP would not have been done. Due to internal and external pressure on Zimbabwe to comply with the JWP and the KPCS minimum requirements, the country made significant efforts to comply. For example, by December 2012, civil society noted in its report to the KPCS that significant progress had been made by Zimbabwe in the implementation of KP minimum requirements and many of the issues that had been identified in the Joint Work Plan[1]. By that time the situation in Marange had largely stabilized, companies had put in place security systems and infrastructure, investors engaged, cases of human rights violations had declined and phased withdrawal of the military. As a result of the involvement of the KPCS, the companies adopted security measures such as setting up of cameras, handsfree system and security guards patrolling the mining sites among others. These measures reduced smuggling, illegal digging and illegality. The flourishing diamond trade centers in Mutare and Villa De Manica dried up as a result of these measures recommended by the KPCS, although here and there diamonds would be smuggled out and leakages recorded. To that extent the KPCS actions resulted in some positive changes in Marange. However, what remained a major challenge for the country were officially recognized smuggling rings through the airport and other points of entry mostly fanned by ZANU PF politicians and mining companies under the pretext that they were evading the sanctions on ZMDC imposed by the United States of America and other western countries.

The other positive aspects about the KPCS involvement in Zimbabwe is that in order to address the weaknesses that had been identified by the KPCS in the internal control systems in Zimbabwe, the government developed a Diamond Policy to address the policy gaps and weaknesses related to diamond exploration, licensing, protection of diamonds from smuggling and theft, value addition, marketing and export of rough diamonds. This was another attempt to comply with one of the KPCS minimum requirement that participants must develop legal frameworks. The Policy was approved by Cabinet in May 2012.However, the policy does not have the force of law.

The decision by the KPCS to establish a Local Focal Point of civil society to improve local level monitoring of the situation in Marange became one of the most innovative and positive changes of the involvement of the KPCS in Zimbabwe. This was done to enhance the tripartite nature of the KPCS. Civil society managed to assist the KP monitoring team and even presented reports during plenary and intersessional meetings. Many of the recommendations and findings by civil society informed some KPCS debates and decisions. For example, the Washington Communique of 2012 encouraged the setting up of national level tripartite arrangements by all KPCS participants to enhance local level monitoring and implementation of the KPCS minimum requirements. The Communique also encouraged Zimbabwe to maintain the best practices that have developed during 2012, including facilitating engagement among government, industry and civil society and also to ensure that civil society continues having access to Marange.[2]  

Arguably, while some participants in the KPCS strongly stated that the KPCS‘s involvement in Zimbabwe was not so much about human rights but more about smuggling of diamonds across the borders, illegal digging and others forms of illegality, the involvement of the KPCS resulted in reduction of incidences of violence and human rights violations. This is because government and state security forces were aware that civil society groups were watching and reporting to the KPCS. While the Coalition refused to directly deal with the human rights reports, it simply noted them and did nothing. However, the fact that they were noted and even included in the Review Mission reports indicated that the KPCS indirectly became seized with the issue of human rights. Therefore, indirectly the KPCS helped in promoting the decline of human rights violations in Marange.  This became more evident whenever a KPCS review mission or a KP Monitoring team would be visiting as government officials and security forces would be afraid and would rush to make sure there was peace in the diamond fields. During such times incidences of human rights violations would lessen. However, in some cases in an attempt to clear the diamond fields of illegal miners and dealers, the security forces often committed human rights violations as they ended up beating up people to ensure that there was no one in the diamond fields.

The positive changes brought about by the KPCS involvement in Zimbabwe end with the above. In this case what has become more agonizing and painful for any civil society activist involved in the KPCS and in educating the ordinary people in Marange who were affected by human rights violations, is explaining to them what the KPCS can do and what it cannot do. This is because in the communities there has always been a lot of expectation and belief that the KPCS can protect them from all the ills brought about by diamond mining companies and government such as human rights violations, environmental pollution and relocation. The list of things that the KPCS did not do in Zimbabwe and other parts of the world is long and will be treated in subsequent section. The KP story continues next Friday. Till then!


[1] KPCS Civil Society Coalition Representatives in Zimbabwe (29 November 2012);  Report to the Working Group on Monitoring (WGM);  Presented at the 2012 KPCS Plenary Meeting: Washington DC, USA 

[2] KPCS (30 November 2012) Final Communiqué from the Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting held on the 30 November 2012 Washington, D.C. United States of America

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