Conflict diamonds a challenge in Africa

SOUTH AFRICA – Conflict diamonds are still a major issue in Africa, particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic and Zimbabwe, says Global Witness diamond campaigner Emily Armistead.

Mining Weekly

“In Côte d’Ivoire the (diamond) trade is currently illegal. However, for diamonds from Zimbabwe, which is certified by the Kimberly Process (KP) — an organisation that prevents conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market — the trade is ‘legitimate’,” she said.

Armistead explained that this was partly a result of the KP’s narrow definition of conflict, which covers only the sale of diamonds that support rebel groups, whereas in Zimbabwe, Global Witness believes that diamond sales are funding repressive elements of the government, including the secret police and the military.

“Global Witness departed from the KP in 2011, as we believe that the KP failed to adequately deal with the problems of conflict diamonds. In particular, its failure to deal with the harms associated with Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds brought the KP into disrepute,” explained Armistead.

She added that weak enforcement, a narrow definition of conflict and the fact that only raw stones are covered by the process all contribute to the KP’s inadequate response to problems that Zimbabwe faces.

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on:


  1. Diamonds and Conflict What are conflict diamonds? Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds, are diamonds that are used by rebel groups to fuel conflict and civil wars. They have funded brutal conflicts in Africa that have resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Diamonds have also been used by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda to finance their activities, and for money-laundering purposes. Are conflict diamonds still a problem? Diamonds are still fuelling conflict. In West Africa, diamonds from the rebel-held area of Côte d’Ivoire are being mined and are smuggled through neighbouring countries to international markets. The United Nations has recentl yreported that poor controls are allowing up to $23 million of conflict diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire to enter the legitimate trade through Ghana, where they are being certified as conflict-free, and through Mali. The Kimberley Process was set up to stop the trade in conflict diamonds but it still isn’t strong enough to achieve its aim.Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia and Sierra Leone are still recovering from widespread devastation resulting from wars funded by diamonds.Diamonds continue to be used for money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime.The number of conflict diamonds has significantly reduced because peace agreements have been signed in countries in Western and Southern Africa. But more diamond-fuelled wars could happen in the future unless the Kimberley Process strengthens government controls and the diamond industry cleans up its act. YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER WHAT IS CALLED BLOOD DIAMONDS. STOP INSULTING ZIM DIAMONDS AS BLOOD DIAMONDS

  2. Certified diamonds are blood diamonds too!In recent years, as a result of U.S. backed wars in Western Africathere have been popular campaigns against buying “conflict” or“blood” diamonds. Rap songs, movie stars and articles in cyberspacewarn us against these tainted stones. No conscious, progressiveAmerican would buy such a diamond.These campaigns insist that anyone buying diamond jewelry must becareful to select only those diamonds certified by the accepted, legalKimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS). This schemesupposedly protects Africa from diamonds mined by the perpetratorsof the deadly wars in West Africa characterized by rape, mutilations,displacement and outright slaughter carried out over the past 15 yearsor so.The fact is though, it was the powerful DeBeers diamond cartel itselfthat created the concept of “blood” diamonds, fearful that diamondscoming out of the war-torn areas of West Africa would flood themarket and undermine their long standing worldwide control of theprice of the stones. The Kimberley process scheme is just that—theirscheme to maintain control of the world’s diamond supply.All diamonds are blood diamonds. All diamonds are conflict diamonds.The brutal Western imperial proxy wars in West Africa over diamondmines have been horrific. These wars, however, are only anotherchapter in the last hundred years of colonial terror as it has beenrepresented by the diamond trade, controlled by the DeBeers cartel. The legacy of the diamond is steeped in the slavery, colonialism,genocide and terror that built and maintains the Western capitalistsystem. We are the beneficiaries of this genocidal system

  3. Today, diamonds from African soil are worth billions of dollars, wealththat is concentrated mostly in the U.S., Europe, Israel and the whitepopulation of South Africa. African people on their own land, laboringin the mines under slave-like conditions for pennies a day have nocontrol over the diamond trade whatsoever and see no benefits fromits profits.DeBeers founded by British colonizer Cecil RhodesIn the 1870s, during the period called the “scramble for Africa,” thebrutal Cecil Rhodes was colonizing Southern Africa, setting up theAfrican front of British imperialism. One of Rhodes’ primary endeavors was the large diamond mine inKimberley, South Africa. The gems from this mine made Rhodes amulti-millionaire and consolidated his power in the region. The price toAfrican people was mass slaughter of tens of thousands and theseizure of their territories. Whole populations were dispersed whenRhodes dynamited them off their lands. African families weredestroyed as African men were rounded up by the thousands in forcedlabor concentration camps near the diamond mines, a practice thatcontinues today.The British colonial exploits in Africa and around the world followed onthe heels of more than three centuries of the trade in African peoplethemselves. The immeasurable wealth generated by the slave tradecatapulted England out of the poverty and ignorance of feudalism andtransformed it into a wealthy industrialized nation. It was this processthat brought about the birth of the capitalist system itself

  4. As white people we habitually ignore the unfathomable sufferinginflicted on African and other peoples that bring us the resources andstandard of living we take for granted. We happily deny the fact thatthose resources, wrested at a price of hideous suffering to so many,make up the foundation of the prosperity and opportunities of oursociety.The DeBeers diamond cartel has always done what the U.S.-backedrebels of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo have done to African people,and even worse. DeBeers simply had the power to hide it from theview of the white world, for whom the fate of African people has neverbeen a concern in any case.This is the context for the definition of “blood” or “conflict” diamonds.It’s not just a particular atrocity that comes to our attention at anygiven moment. It’s a centuries-long institutionalized process of rippingthe humanity, the beauty, the resources, land and independence outof the soul of Africa for our benefit. Blood was dripping from diamonds long before the slaughter began inWest Africa in the 1990s

  5. Nelsom Chamitsa

    In the past 10 years proxy wars financed and backed by the U.S.,other imperialist powers, including DeBeers, have ravaged the Congoto get or maintain control of those bountiful resources whose benefitsnever reach the average African person. Five million people in the Congo have been slaughtered in those warsso that life in the white world can go on in peaceful, prosperous, hi-tech tranquility. No one in America protests this new generation ofgenocide in the Congo. No one even talks about it.Most of Africa is blessed with this profuse wealth of natural resources.Yet half the people in diamond rich West Africa live on less than adollar a day. It has the lowest life expectancy at birth in the world—in10 countries in Africa the life expectancy is 46 years. Sierra Leone hasthe highest infant mortality rate in the world with 284 deaths perevery thousand live births. DeBeers and the U.S.-backed defeat of African liberationIn the 1960s the colonized world rose up to challenge the fact that theWestern powers had for hundreds of years built themselves with theresources of nonwhite people for the benefit of white society. Becauseof this plunder the average white family in Europe, North America,Africa or Australia, who may not be as rich or powerful as theRockefellers could nevertheless count on this process to enjoy by farthe highest standard of living for working people in the world. The sixties are remembered for the valiant struggle of the Vietnamesepeople who fought for generations to control their own country, firstdefeating France and then sending the U.S. out with their tailsbetween their legs. In the U.S. the Black Power Movement shook this system to its veryfoundations with the demand for more than civil rights. It was arevolutionary demand for black political and economic power andAfrican liberation. On the continent of Africa itself the call for a unifiedand liberated Africa gave hope to the suffering masses. In the late 1950s Kwame Nkrumah became the first elected presidentof Ghana. With the supposed ousting of British colonial control,Nkrumah pursued his ideals of attempting to eliminate all the
    Page 12
    12imperialist-imposed borders and creating one continental Africannation working for the benefit of each and every African

  6. White power in black faceMuch is being written these days about “corruption” among the Africanruling elite being the cause of Africa’s problems today.The reality is that the African politicians are simply doing what theywere set up to do—maintain the interests of the imperialist financialinterests regardless of the cost to the people. These are theneocolonialists and they are paid quite well.After the murder of Patrice Lumumba, Tempelsman secured a diamonddeal with Congo that was extremely lucrative for both the U.S. andDeBeers. It also allowed him to end up with control of severalprofitable mines while giving some of the biggest, most valuablediamonds in the world to Joseph Mobutu, the pliable new puppet whowould brutally do the bidding of U.S. imperialism in Congo for the next30 years.Despite the fact that Lumumba was only in power three months, hisleadership had sparked the enthusiasm of the masses of the peopleand the confidence that they could begin to control their own destinyas African people on their own land.For many years following the assassination of Lumumba, Congo(known as Zaire under Mobutu) was in a state of mass rebellion. Well-organized resistance fighters held liberated territory in some areas,prompting Che Guevara to take a brigade of Cuban revolutionaries tojoin the struggle there.It took all of Mobutu’s military force and a reign of terror to subdue thepeoples’ resistance. Mobutu’s forces were trained, armed and paid bythe U.S., with the CIA operating both openly and covertly throughoutthe country, often with its own mercenary forces.As a U.S. puppet, Mobutu was vicious to those who challenged him. Hewas known to gouge out the eyes of opposition leaders or cut off their
    Page 14
    14limbs while they were still alive. He tortured and locked up hundreds ofthousands of African working people and students.Mobutu was paid well for his terror, raiding the coffers of the countryand amassing nearly $5 billion, which he stashed in Swiss banks, whilethe African masses starved and suffered. The fact that the Westernpowers would allow Mobutu to expropriate $5 billion gives us aninkling of how much the resources of the Congo are worth toimperialism.Neocolonialism is the way that the U.S. keeps its control over theresources of the world while hiding behind handpicked leaders fromthe colonial people. When Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa, signalingthe end of the apartheid era, he was heralded by the media as abeacon of justice. To the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement it wasalways clear that Mandela was nothing but another neocolonial puppetworking for the interests of the imperial powers.Today, 12 years after the end of apartheid in South Africa, 40 percentof Africans in the cities are unemployed and 70 percent in rural areas.Sixty-one percent now live below the poverty level, while only aboutone percent of whites live in poverty. Ninety-six percent of arablecommercial land is still in the hands of white farmers.It should be no surprise that as a new movie called “Blood Diamond” isscheduled to open in the winter of 2006, Mandela recently came outwith a public statement in support of DeBeers. Mandela stated that thediamond industry is “good for South Africa.”When DeBeers Chairman Harry Oppenheimer died in 2000 and thereigns were passed to his son Nicky, Mandela wrote Harry’s obituary inTime Magazine, hailing Oppenheimer as “monumentally instrumentalin helping our country become the economic leader it is today.

  7. However, for diamonds from Zimbabwe, which is certified by the Kimberly Process (KP) — an organisation that prevents conflict diamonds from entering the mainstream rough diamond market — the trade is ‘legitimate’,” she said.

    Saka nyaya ndeipi apa?

    Anyway, all diamonds ever produced across the world are blood/conflict/exploitation diamonds if you really widen the criteria to decide. The largest diamond ever is on the queen’s crown. I doubt if the communities where that diamond came from are adequately compensated. We should do a backdated minerals certification process for all the Afrikan minerals and oil that funded conflicts in Europe and America via some of the most ‘respected’ big names in global business today; then we tax the bastards toona kiti vanoti Zimbabwe has blood diamonds futhi here?

  8. I wonder why this paper loves to report on stories that paint a negative picture on Africa, especailly from the eyes of varungu ne ngochani dze ku Europe? Ko muchambonyorao here nyaya dzinotipa pride to be African? ALL mainstream newspapers in the West deliberately create, frame and report news in a favourable light to their countries, even if the story is negative. You hardly see or read US mainstream news and come across a condescending quote or two from ‘enemies’ of their state commenting on the one thing that brings or has the potential to bring economic gains to the country. Ko isusu tinoitirei kudaro? Perhaps it is an issue of the puppet master deciding on the content and framing of stories to this paper’s editor who knows where his bread is buttered! Also, thank you for this forum to discuss, kusatenda huroi.

  9. In Zimbabwe diamonds are not a problem but an excuse to effect regime change

  10. Zimbabwe neither funds a conflict nor undertakes measures that supports any wars anywhere on earth, we only strive to get fair markets to sell our diamonds but unfortunately some among us believe if mining is not done by western companies then it is not correctly planed at all stages, that is the problem that prompted some so called NGOs to successfully campaign for sanctioning of our diamond industry, a result which causes markets to shut doors for our gems and insurance companies to refuse to take risks.
    the problem is we Zimbabweans have refused to learn lessons from our past as to how and why we were enslaved, colonized and today why we are coerced to accept the concept of being only workers when some western institutions are mining.

  11. Zimbabwe Diamonds CAN NEVER and WILL NEVER be conflict diamonds despite the articles labour to classify them as such. Unless if the ‘conflict’ so assumed is a duel btwn the previous claims owner ACR and Zimbabwe’s indegenisation policy. But then, still the diamonds will not even fit the description of ‘Conflict’ or ‘Blood’ diamonds, cos we all know the mining of diamonds in Chiadzwa is peacefull, serve for the ‘wars’ in the heads of such individuals as Dewa Mavhinga and Maguwu. Zimbabweans should know that its one thing for political parties to fight for recognition and its another to seek to achieve it thru demonising your own country. Can anyone please tell me at least 5 countries which they know of and how their diamond money is used? Yet when it comes to Zimbabwe, so much noise is made about the money being used for this and that. Is there any prescribed use of diamond proceeds in the world?

  12. Scott uri zidhodhi remunhu newspaper chairo rinoripoter nyaya inenge iripo zvisinei kuti yakarerekera kupi.

  13. We cannot all directly benefit from any mining, its only thru downstream benefits which cannot be easily be linked to the activity of mining. Think of Zvishavane community in the Mimosa area, nice tarred road, nice schools around, free transport to town, is that not benefit to all the people. This is also true to people in Mhondoro. These are our minerals, whats the difference, diamonds are also minerals like all others. I believe the miners in Marange are doing enough for the communities. Roads, boreholes and many more. We are tired of conflict this or that, stay in your country we don’t need your help.

Comments are closed.