Sanctions on diamond companies not beneficial to Zim

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The recent addition of Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources to the United States sanction list is the clearest indication yet that Zimbabwe’s erstwhile enemies in the West will do anything to make sure they suffocate the nation’s attempts to extricate itself from the effects of sanctions.

The latest development, coming barely two months after the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) approved the sale of the country’s gems, is an indication of the double standards that have become the hallmark of countries in the West.

According to the latest US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the two companies have been added onto the “specially designated” updated nationals list.

The list extends to any assumed names the companies might operate under, including Block Wood Mining and Condurango Investments.

What makes the development sad is the fact that the two companies had done everything possible to comply as had been asked by the KPCS only for US to shift goalposts because they have been praying for the classification of the gemstones as blood diamonds so they could not be traded on the lucrative international market.

We are told the approval of the sale of the country’s diamonds was reached after negotiations involving the KP council, Zimbabwe, the European Union, South Africa and the United States. The approval will be effective until a KP meeting next year.

Yes, there could still be issues that have to be addressed, but we do not believe the sanctions route was the way to go.

In fact, the sanctions with which top government officials have been slapped over the past years don’t seem to have shaken them, and this is likely to be the case with the diamond companies.

Considering the immense benefit the diamonds are expected to bring into the country not for certain individuals but for the economy as a whole, these sanctions are unnecessary.

What the US should be advocating for is transparency in the usage of the funds generated from the sale of these gems rather than completely shutting the country out.

If they really have the interests of the ordinary people of Zimbabwe at heart as they claim, this is what they are supposed to do.

What then is it that we should do as a country before we can enjoy the proceeds from the precious mineral resource?

The government anticipates $600 million in additional revenue from diamond sales in 2012, which is earmarked to go towards social services that benefit the masses directly.

What will become of these programmes if the funds do not come through?

Is this not punishing the ordinary people who have been hopeful that their basic needs will be met and their meagre salaries improved?

In that regard, we urge the US to reconsider its decision.