diamonds 03.08.10.jpgOnce characterised by distrust and hostility relations between government and the civil society over the diamond industry are beginning to improve with some members of the civic society appreciating efforts by both government and mining firms in developing the industry.

Since the establishment of the global diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in 2000, the civic society has played an important role in discouraging trade in diamonds from conflict areas.

However the relevance and credibility of the KP Civil Society has came under scrutiny over the past few years when it became clear that they were being used as a trump card by the United States in blocking the certification of the Marange diamonds.

The recent one day familiarisation tour by the civil society gave the noisy NGOs firsthand information regarding the developments at the diamond mining fields.

Asked whether they still contend that Marange diamonds are bloody and that there are human rights abuses, the team made a stunning about turn praising government and the mining houses for massive investment and state of the art mining infrastructure.

Following the positive comments, it became clear that most of the reports by the civil society were based on unfounded allegations whose intention was to please their funders.

Renowned artist, Cont Mhlanga who was part of the delegation questioned the intentions of the NGOs in tarnishing Marange diamonds and their failure to pay attention to the siphoning of resources by the conglomerates operating across the continent.

As part of their recommendations, the NGOs called on government to carry out comprehensive exploration to quantify the mineral wealth in the area, expedite the allocation of grazing and farming land as well as value addition of the precious stones.

 

Surprisingly, the NGOs also asked government to afford them what they termed unfettered access to the diamond fields.

 

Observers described the call for unfettered access to Marange as misplaced and unreasonable given the fact that the diamond fields fall under the protected area.

 

Some members of the civil society blamed their colleagues for unjustifiably tarnishing the country’s diamonds and urged those Western funded NGOs to use the facts gathered during the tour in correcting their previous unfounded reports.

 

It has become clear that the noise about Marange was more political as the US which has imposed it’s illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe has used the NGOs to advance the anti-Marange diamond cause.

 

Questions remain as to whether the civil society are still relevant to the Kimberley Process given their lack of credibility and most importantly whether their recent comments should be taken seriously given their well documented lack of consistency.