KP monitor speaks on Zimbabwe diamonds

THE Kimberley Process (KP) monitor on Zimbabwe, Abbey Chikane, says he has been called names over his handling of the country’s drive towards compliance with the diamonds regulatory body, but is happy the storm is over.

Report by Ndamu Sandu

The monitor is credited for steering Marange diamonds to full compliance with the KP.

In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the Diamond Conference in Victoria Falls, Chikane said he had done his best to ensure the country complies with the minimum requirements.

“I have been called names and I guess it comes with the job. To be a monitor you are required to deal with different stakeholders. I have been able to do the best I could and to achieve what we have achieved so far as Kimberley Process, as Zimbabwe, as African countries and the entire diamond fraternity,” he said.

Chikane said he had “no qualms about it and I think someone has to do it at some point and unfortunately I happen to be that person”.

He said there was belief that he would do the job by virtue of being KP founding chair.

“I came in not thinking it would be as complicated as that because I believed participants would be able to resolve the matter and reach consensus. I am glad that the storm is over,” he said.

Chikane was appointed KP monitor in 2009 and his term ended in 2010. He is now in the KP monitoring team working alongside Mark van Bockstael.

The appointment of Van Bockstael was disputed by Zimbabwe on the grounds that the geologist would not undertake the task perfectly since he is from a bloc that imposed sanctions on the country.

Chikane said the geologist was appointed in the midst of the impasse in Zimbabwe where it was clear “KP needed two people who were perceived to be representative of all the parties in the Kimberley Process”.

Chikane said he had worked with Van Bockstael since 2000 and “during this period he has acted independent of what the position of European Commission is”.

Chikane’s tenure as monitor was not rosy and at one time his bag was opened by State security agents stealing some vital documents. The contents of the documents were splashed in national papers.

Chikane said he had forgiven the people who stole his documents.
“We were in a situation where there was too much tension among all the parties internal and external and I understood exactly why it happened. It did shock me but I just understood that especially in Zimbabwe it was bound to happen,” he said, adding that the country has the best intelligence services.

Marange diamonds have created controversy over ownership and the trading of the gems.

A recent report by Partnership Africa Canada said elites had spirited away diamonds worth $2 billion.

Chikane said that according to statistics, diamonds worth $1,2 billion from Marange had been sold between 2008 and 2012.
On ownership of the mines, Chikane said the KP would not dictate who should be or should not be shareholders in the mining companies in respective countries.

“. . . We are the last people to try to dictate exactly what should happen (in terms of shareholding),” he said when asked if he was aware that soldiers were mining in Marange.

Chikane said Zimbabwe had over-complied having surpassed the minimum requirements and the diamond trade was highly-regulated both locally and internationally.

“A case in point is that for any company to export the goods there has to be a KP monitor or KP monitoring team. You don’t find that in other countries,” Chikane said.

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