Hats off to Chidhakwa

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HARARE – Widely viewed as still “green” and a novice for the new job, Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa proved at the last held Kimberly Process (KP) Plenary that although he was thrown in deep-end, he is a shark.

The 2013 KP Plenary was expected to deal with basically six issues which include the ban on diamond trade in the Central African Republic, suspension of Venezuela and Ivory Coast, the review report on the USA KP systems, election of Angola as the vice chair and proposed reforms on the KP Statutes.

These critical agenda issues caused a lot of horse trading, spying and aggressive diplomacy as members sought to procure each others’ vote. The KP operates on the doctrine of soft law where each and every member has to consent to decisions proposed.

The rabid attack by Civic Society Coalition, represented by Shamiso Mtisi who is believed to be a Zimbabwean, in their opening address on Zimbabwe and Angola was, to say the least, malicious, contemptuous and riddled with falsehoods.

It was a deliberate move by the Western sponsored Civic Society Coalition to have a black man deliver the speech since the Plenary was being held in Africa for obvious reasons.

Many delegates were stone-faced during this presentation and attempted to angrily respond.

Chidhakwa, sat quietly and attentive and the diplomacy experience he acquired in Bulgaria saved the day.

It was indeed difficult for him to keep quiet than respond. His silence surprised many and earned Chidhakwa respect for showing maturity and demonstrating that the attack did not deserve to be dignified with a response.

African Union, Sadc, the European Union and other international observer teams declared the Zimbabwean election free, fair and credible. The subversion of the will of the people due to diamond earnings does not arise in Zimbabwe or in any other KP compliant African countries.

This statement was an indictment on the integrity and competency of the KP.

In the 2012 United Nations Report, 99 percent of the world diamonds are certified conflict free but Mtisi and colleagues thinks otherwise.

Chidakwa succeeded in ensuring that the Civil Society Coalition sponsored reforms are thwarted by successfully mobilising African and Asian countries to vote against the motion.

The Mines minister’s shrewdness made his delegation put American on the back foot with regards the poor review report on its KP control mechanisms.

It was a big feat for Chidhakwa and his team to put the Americans in the dock and remind them that they were as equal as any other members.

This was important given that Zimbabwe is the biggest supplier of diamonds in the world and America is the biggest consumer of diamonds in the world. The two countries need to respect each other.

The interrogation of the review report on the USA’s KP control mechanism exposed that the USA was importing four million carats of diamonds and exporting seven million carats.

What an anomaly for a country with no meaningful diamond extractive industry!

This means that millions of diamond carats were imported into USA outside the KP oversight and then get KP certificates in USA to allow them to trade anywhere in the world.

This arrangements breed speculation that some diamonds from conflict riddled countries like Central African Republic were finding safe homes in USA where they were sanitised with KP certification.

Chidhakwa managed, at every time, to maintain a very cozy relationship with newly-found love, European Union. As his first KP assignment, Chidhakwa deserves a feather on his cap.

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