Harare: Zimbabwe said it will not support the civil society’s sponsored move to expand the definition of conflict diamonds to include issues such as human rights.
Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa told Rough & Polished that Harare engaged the South Africans on the sidelines of the African Mining Indaba last February and they also indicated their discomfort with the overhaul of the definition.
The contentious issue was expected to cause rancour at the Kimberley Process’ Intersessional meeting set for Perth, Australia early next month.
“Our argument is a very simple argument. We deal diamonds let’s do the best we can to ensure that our diamonds are clean,” said Chidhakwa.
“That is our core business, this is a UN organ there is another UN organ (that deals with human rights), before I even go there is an African Union organ responsible for human rights. If we now say human rights as they relate with diamonds must be dealt with by the Kimberley Process, (then) I don’t understand what we are trying to do.”
He also said that the UN and IMF as well as member countries had ways to deal with the issue of financial illicit. “Why don’t we let those who have the expertise to deal with that?” he asked rhetorically.
“If we are asked for information, naturally we pass on the information to them so that they are able to better investigate the work, but to say we are going to take over the activities and responsibilities of other [agencies and institutions] as part of KP, I don’t think it’s the way to go. So we were in discussions with the South Africans, we will say no to that.”
KP chairperson Robert Owen Jones told Rough & Polished in February that the diamond watchdog would do a review this year and it won’t surprise him if a number of countries and delegates propose things like changes to the definition of conflict diamonds.
“I want to have a conversation about anything that people raise in terms of, ‘will KP work better or not if we do this?’, ultimately any decisions that we make as Kimberley Process, are decisions by consensus, so you don’t just accept any one point of view, you have to listen to everyone’s point of view and the extent to which we might change or might not change the definition will be an agreement by all of us, equally, so it’s a consensus-based organization,” he said.