It’s the regime change agenda all the time

The United States, Canada and Australia are abusing the Kimberly Process, an initiative to prevent the sale of “blood” diamonds, in order to frustrate Zimbabwe’s efforts to establish a multi-billion dollar annual revenue stream from its rich Marange diamond fields. The aim is to keep up economic pressure on the country to undermine popular support for Robert Mugabe and his land reform and economic indigenization programs.

By Stephen Gowans

Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields hold out the promise of billions of dollars per year in diamond sales [1], a bounty that could help the southern African country develop economically, and place it among the world’s top diamond producers.

But if the United States, Canada and Australia have their way, Zimbabwe will have to find a way to sell its diamonds without a seal of approval from the Kimberly Process, “a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.” [2]

Abbey Chikane, a South African businessman appointed by the Kimberly Process to monitor the Marange fields, recommended that the diamonds be certified. He also recommended that Zimbabwe’s army, which has guarded the fields from the anarchy of illegal diamond diggers hoping to strike it rich, continues to do so until the police are in a position to maintain order. [3]

Most African countries — including Zimbabwe’s neighbors South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Tanzania — backed up Chikane’s recommendation, as did India, China and Russia, which together represent the bulk of humanity. But the United States, Canada and Australia blocked certification.

The three countries, among the world’s richest, point to claims made by two ostensibly independent nongovernmental organizations, Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada, to justify their decision. They say the Zimbabwe military is committing human rights abuses at the Marange fields and running a smuggling operation. [4]

So why did the Kimberly Process auditor recommend certification, despite allegations of human rights abuses and smuggling? First, the Kimberly Process seeks to prevent the sale of rough diamonds to finance rebel wars, not to prevent human rights abuses and smuggling. Second, Kimberly Process chairman Bernard Esau says there is “no proof of alleged human rights violations at the Marange diamond fields.” [5]

The United States, Canada and Australia, along with Britain and the European Union, have been actively seeking to drive Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF from power for the last decade. Their regime change efforts are dressed up as “democracy promotion”, but Washington’s own documents make clear that “democracy promotion” is nothing more that helping the Western-backed, -conceived and -funded Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which currently shares power with Zanu-PF, govern alone. The MDC would end, and possibly reverse, Zanu-PF’s policies of land redistribution and economic indigenization [6] — policies which are giving substantive meaning to the country’s hard fought for independence.

In order to undermine popular support for Zanu-PF and its policies, the United States, Canada and Australia, along with other Western countries, have imposed sanctions which have had a crippling effect on the economy. While they deny that the sanctions are anything other than targeted, and that they’re aimed only at top Zanu-PF leaders, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, a US law passed in 2001, blocks Zimbabwe’s access to international lines of credit. Explicitly taking aim at Zimbabwe’s land redistribution program, the law has cruelly undercut economic development.

Zimbabwe’s land reform and economic indigenization programs remain an inspiration to poor and landless Africans of neighboring countries, who decades after liberation from European colonialism, apartheid and white settler rule, have yet to see any substantive change in their conditions. The economic indigenization program, which mirrors similar policies that South Korea, Japan, Venezuela, Canada and other countries have once used or currently use to promote domestic economic development, [7] requires that at least 51 percent of Zimbabwe’s economy be placed in the hands of Zimbabweans who were disadvantaged by colonial oppression and white minority rule.

While it’s true that Global Witness and Partnership Africa Canada are nongovernmental organizations, they are hardly independent of the Western governments that have worked for regime change in Zimbabwe. Global Witness is funded by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Britain’s Department for International Development, the European Commission, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency and Norad. [8] Partnership Africa Canada receives its funding from many of the same organizations, including a Canadian government department (Foreign Affairs and International Trade) and agency (the Canadian International Development Agency.) [9]

Many NGOs active in Africa create the illusion of being independent of the Western governments that have historically despoiled the continent, while relying on the same governments to provide their funding. It’s highly unlikely that organizations whose existences depend on the support they can get from Western governments stray far from their funders’ interests and foreign policy imperatives. The implication that NGOs are independent of governments is deliberately deceptive.

The Marange diamond fields, then, present a problem to Western governments that have been working to undermine popular support for Zanu-PF and its policies. How can sanctions work if they’re offset by billions of dollars per year in diamond sales?

The answer, of course, is that a rich flow of diamond revenues, and anything else that promises to make life better for Zimbabweans, counters the aims of the sanctions, and therefore, under the logic of Western foreign policy, must be blocked.

To frustrate Zimbabwe’s efforts to benefit from the Marange fields, the United States, Canada and Australia have abused the Kimberly Process. The initiative is intended to prevent rebel movements using rough diamonds to finance wars against legitimate governments. Is there any evidence this is happening in Zimbabwe? None at all.

But the flaw in the Kimberly Process is that it operates on the principle of consensus. That means that participants who seek to deny certification can, for their own mischievous political reasons, withhold their approval and therefore prevent consensus, invoking some unrelated humanitarian principle as justification.

“We want to be orderly, to do like what other countries in the region are doing,” said Mugabe last May, “but countries like the US, Britain, Australia and Canada want to take advantage of us by ensuring the process creates the same effect like sanctions on us; that we should not be allowed to sell our diamonds.”

“They have been heard saying what happens to our sanctions if Zimbabwe sells its diamonds? It is the regime change agenda all the time.” [10]

1. Celia W. Dugger, “Report on Zimbabwe diamond trade angers rights groups”, The New York Times, June 8, 2010.

Accessed June 25, 2010.

3. Celia W. Dugger, “Report on Zimbabwe diamond trade angers rights groups”, The New York Times, June 8, 2010.

4. Celia W. Dugger, “Zimbabwe diamonds fail to get conflict-free approval”, The New York Times, June 24, 2010.

5. “No proof of diamond fields human rights violations: KP,” The Herald (Zimbabwe), June 28, 2009.

6. Stephen Gowans, “US Government Report Undermines Zimbabwe Opposition’s Claim of Independence”, what’s left, October 4, 2008,

7. Ha-Joon Chang, Bad Samaritans: The Myths of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, Bloomsbury Press, 2008. The author, a South Korean who teaches economics at the University of Cambridge, is hardly a favorite of the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. In July, 2008 the ministry banned from military barracks Bad Samaritans, along with 23 other books, labeled anti-capitalist, anti-American and pro-North Korean. Also included were books by Noam Chomsky. “Military expands book blacklist”, The Hankyoreh, July 31, 2008; Chose Sang-Hun, “Textbooks on Past Offend South Korea’s Conservatives,” The New York Times, November 18, 2008.

Accessed June 25, 2010.

Accessed June 25, 2010.

10. Takunda Maodza, “President slams KPCS”, The Herald (Zimbabwe), May 28, 2010.

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