Belgium seeks end to sanctions on ZMDC

BRUSSELS — Belgium is pushing for European Union sanctions on a Zimbabwean gold and diamond mining company to be lifted, putting it at odds with some of its EU partners days before a deadline to extend sanctions on Zimbabwe, EU diplomats said on Wednesday.

Report by Trust.org

EU sanctions against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and dozens of other people and companies close to Mugabe’s Zanu PF party are renewed annually and EU countries must agree to extend them before they expire on February 20.

EU diplomats say some people and companies are likely to be removed from the list of those covered by visa bans and asset freezes, in line with EU efforts in the last few years to encourage democratic change in Zimbabwe.

But a stumbling block has emerged over one of the companies listed, the State-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), which the EU said last year was “associated with the Zanu PF faction of government”.

The sanctions ban financial transactions with the firm from Europe and freeze any assets it may have in Europe.

Belgium says it wants sanctions lifted on ZMDC, which operates five diamond mines in Zimbabwe’s rich Marange fields.

Other EU countries, such as Zimbabwe’s former colonial ruler Britain, believe consideration of lifting sanctions on ZMDC should wait until after elections expected in Zimbabwe in July.

EU diplomats were due to discuss the issue yesterday and it will be on the agenda of EU Foreign ministers on Monday.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980, shares power with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in an uneasy coalition formed after a disputed 2008 election which was marred by violence blamed on Zanu PF militants.

The Marange diamond fields have been notorious for violence, with rights group Human Rights Watch alleging in a 2009 report that Zimbabwe’s military killed more than 200 people in a takeover of the fields in late 2008.

Belgium, home to the world’s largest diamond trading hub, Antwerp, argues that the situation in Marange has completely changed and sanctions on ZMDC are no longer justified.

Belgium’s Foreign ministry noted that the Kimberley Process, a monitoring organisation set up to stem the flow of diamonds used to finance conflicts, had certified Marange gems as compliant.

“Experience has shown that, in this particular case, sanctions are counter-productive by diverting diamonds to less transparent markets,” a ministry statement said.

Global Witness, an organisation which campaigns against violence and corruption linked to minerals, said it opposed Belgium’s move to lift sanctions on ZMDC and urged the EU to strengthen restrictions on sales of Marange diamonds to Europe.

The group said it believed there was a serious risk that diamond revenues could be used to fund violence in this year’s Zimbabwe election.

“The Belgian government is claiming concern for the Zimbabwean people. However, its true interests are closer to home in the diamond markets of Antwerp,” Global Witness campaigner Emily Armistead said in a statement.

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11 Responses to Belgium seeks end to sanctions on ZMDC

  1. toughllo February 15, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    At last some Western states getting sense!!!How do the sanctions help the populace;surely those idiots dont have Zimbabweans at heart but greedness!!!

    • Tapfumaneyi February 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      For Zimbabwe, their disagreement in Brussels makes no difference. It will not halt us from progressing. It is them who are economically struggling. Thus, Belgium’s effort must not be viewed as a change of policy towards Zimbabwe, informed by humanitarian concerns. It is being triggered by its own economic quagmire. We can do without them. Let mudhara not retrogress on all pro-people programmes. We are behind him. These countries are stupidly and callously rapacious. Let them squeak.

    • Tapfumaneyi February 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

      For Zimbabwe, their disagreement in Brussels makes no difference. It will not halt us from progressing. It is them who are economically struggling. Thus, Belgium’s effort must not be viewed as a change of policy towards Zimbabwe, informed by humanitarian concerns. It is being triggered by its own economic quagmire. We can do without them. Let mudhara not retrogress on all pro-people programmes. We are behind him. These countries are stupidly and callously rapacious. Let them squeak.

      • Tapfumaneyi February 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

        I am told Jongwe is in Masvingo today, launching another community share-ownership scheme. Good timing mudhara: while they are busy quarrelling among themselves about the relevance of illicit sanctions against our country, we are hitting them hard by continuing with our programmes. Let us reveal and confirm the irrelevance of their involvement in Zimbabwe. They have nothing to teach us. They have abused us in their countries but expect to be treated with august hands. I am proud of my President. He has given a man of colour dignity.

  2. sadza mushumha February 15, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Europe has run dry, resources wise. We have plenty, plenty for ourselves and they have less. I wish to see Zimbabwe declaring sanctions against Europe, against the UK and against America such no Zimbabwean minerals will be exported sanction totting Europe, to sanction loving America. They stay with thier money and we sale our subcrast resources to those whom we share the same aspirations with. A united Southern Africa have the capacity to make Europe scream, to make progressive continents like Asia smile by way of allowing its resources take that direction. It is our time. Belgium has realized this. It will try to convince its colleagues, UK will bulldoze its way to force others into submission just in the same manner it won forced solidarity on Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, china and India will continue to be the destination for Zimbabwean diamonds, and the country and its people proves there is life without Europe and America contrary to unwritten conventions.

    • Gidza February 16, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

      Amen to that my brother. I am proud that my country is leading the way for true African economic freedom…and that scares Western Europe. I voted for that pathetic and embarassing idiot Tsvangirai in 2008 and for that I apologise to you my people. I will proudly vote for the true father of our nation…Prez R.G. Mugabe.

  3. Tapfumaneyi February 15, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    @Sadza Mushumha,

    I agree with you totally. We will get there my compatriot. We have demonstrated our resilience and tenacity. No amount of bullying will derail our progress. Let them blame one another. We need nothing from them. I find talking about these people dehumanizing and relevance-conferring. If they could heartlerssly squeeze our people the way they did in 2008, why must we trust them now? Is there any brutality that surpasses that? We will work with those who believe in sovereign equality of States: those who respect us and not those who vilipend and debase the great people of the Republic of Zimbabwe!.

  4. tt February 16, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    ????

  5. tsotso February 18, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    god is there for us let them solve their mess whilst we concentrate on our progress as a nation and build it strong both economically and technologically

  6. Alexander Graham Bell February 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    What is with all the racism and hatred toward Caucasions? Here are a few things that were invented by people of the Caucasion race:

    - Telephone
    - Motorcar
    - Airplane
    - Spaceship
    - Computer

    And I really do hate to tell you something that any idiot could have figured out for himself: many of the Chinese and Indian foreign nationals operating in business in Zimbabwe are working with and sometimes for Caucasion-Zimbabweans.

    What is a Caucasion-Zimbabwean? It is a person of the Caucasion race who is a citizen of Zimbabwe.

    To all my Zimbabwean brothers and sisters please don’t hate someone just because they are “white”. There have been plenty of good whites, even going back to Rhodesia and before that. Not all people of one race are the same and also we can’t be blamed for something done by someone of the same race. If a Shona man rapes and kills a white woman in Germany are all Shona men to blame?

  7. METHEMBE February 18, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Dont worry. all those people writing drivel are government agents trying to convince themselves Mugabe is right, but not backed by evidence. As Zimbabweans we know that whites do not necessarily care about us, history has shown that. But they have capital! Even in China & India the investors are Caucasian, & we will try come with a balanced approach.

    The Chinese economy is stagnating, the Japanese has stagnated since 1989. The Indians have no economy to talk about, & so Zimbabwe must really be careful when choosing economic partners. People with doctorates can’t see this? I wonder.

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