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Namibia did not want to be diverted by political issues in Zimbabwe

Namibia said it wanted to look at the diamonds issue in Zimbabwe from a Kimberley Process perspective and did not want to be diverted by political issues.

This was said by Vicky Dan an assistant of Bernhardt Esau, Namibia’s deputy Minister of Mines and Energy who had been appointed KP chair.

Dan was being pressed by the United States embassy to disclose what the Namibian KP delegation to Zimbabwe was going to do especially about the human rights abuses surrounding illicit diamond mining in Marange which the embassy said undermined the Kimberley Process and Zimbabwe’s unity government.

Dan said the chair was going to look at the issue from the “KP perspective and not be diverted by political issues”.

A United States embassy official said that the Marange region was under Zimbabwean military (not private) control and this made the situation inherently political.

Dan responded that if KP were to sanction or suspend Zimbabwe, the situation could “get much worse”. Suspending Zimbabwe from the KP would remove any leverage the KP had over the Zimbabwean government.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09WINDHOEK85, NAMIBIA: KP CHAIR ON ZIMBABWE’S ILLICIT DIAMONDS

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

09WINDHOEK85

2009-03-06 12:53

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Windhoek

VZCZCXRO2072

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHWD #0085 0651253

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 061253Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0394

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L WINDHOEK 000085

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

FOR EEB (BBROOKS-RUBIN), AF/S (EPELLETREAU AND BWALCH), AND

AF/EPS (MZIKRY)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2019

TAGS: ASEC EMIN ETRD ETTC PHUM PREL ECON WA

SUBJECT: NAMIBIA: KP CHAIR ON ZIMBABWE’S ILLICIT DIAMONDS

 

REF: A. STATE 18545

B. WINDHOEK 82

 

Classified By: DCM Matt Harrington for 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

– – – –

Summary

– – – –

 

1. (C) On March 6, econoff delivered reftel A demarche to

Vicky Dan, assistant to the Kimberley Process (KP) Chair

Bernhardt Esau. The KP Chair’s visit to Zimbabwe from March

14-18 will go forward with a mainly Namibian contingent,

without members from civil society, but perhaps

representatives from Angola and South Africa. When pressed

on the human rights abuses perpetrated by Robert Mugabe’s

military as it profits from Zimbabwe’s illicit diamond trade,

Dan explained that the KP Chair wishes to address the problem

without getting “diverted into the political issues.” End

Summary.

 

2. (C) In our March 6 meeting, Ms. Dan is the KP Chair’s

designee to the Working Group on Monitoring (WGM). Esau and

his KP Coordinator Cecilie Mbundu were unavailable to receive

the demarche. Dan explained that she would accompany Esau,

Mbundu, and Namibian Diamond Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya

on the KP Chair’s visit to Zimbabwe from March 14-18.

Representatives from Angola and South Africa may also attend.

The visit will not be a formal KP review but will be a

chance for the Chair to “see for himself” the situation on

the ground in Zimbabwe, said Dan. Initially, Dan mentioned

the Chair’s visit would be followed by a formal review

mission to Zimbabwe in two to three months. Later she

backtracked and stated that a formal review might not happen

prior to the June KP Intersessional Meeting, but “most

definitely before the end of the year.” Dan mentioned that

the KP Chair would issue a statement on Zimbabwe that day,

although she declined to characterize what the statement

would say.

 

3. (C) Econoff underscored that the human rights abuses

surrounding the illicit diamond mining in Marange region

undermined both the Kimberley Process and Zimbabwe’s unity

government. Dan responded that the Chair has to look at the

issue from the “KP perspective and not be diverted by

political issues.” Econoff emphasized that the Marange

region is under Zimbabwean military (not private) control

which makes the situation inherently political. Dan

responded that if KP were to sanction or suspend Zimbabwe,

the situation could “get much worse.” Suspending Zimbabwe

from the KP would remove any leverage KP has over the

Zimbabwean government, Dan contended.

 

4. (C) Dan acknowledged that several civil society

organizations (Partnership Africa Canada particularly)

strongly oppose the Chair’s March 14-18 visit. Econoff

reminded Dan that KP is largely the result of civil society

pressure on the diamond industry and that any issue that

loses civil society buy-in risks tarnishing the KP (and

implicitly Namibia’s Chairmanship of the KP). Econoff also

stressed that the diamond companies of compliant KP partner

countries, such as Namibia, suffer when other countries

permit illicit smuggling of conflict diamonds.

 

– – – –

Comment

– – – –

 

5. (C) As noted in reftel B, Namibian government (GRN)

officials and members of the ruling SWAPO party have historic

ties to Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF. The GRN has to

date avoided criticizing or taking action against Mugabe and

his regime. KP Chair Bernhardt Esau, who is also Namibia’s

Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, appears to be trying to

reconcile his obligations to the KP without going astray of

his government’s policy on Zimbabwe, a balance that may be

very difficult to achieve. End Comment.

 

– – – – –

Bio Note

– – – – –

 

6. (C) Dan has no background in the mining sector or

diamonds. She recently graduated from the University of

Namibia (UNAM) with a double major in communications and

sociology. She appears bright and articulate, but

acknowledged she is still learning about the Kimberley

Process.

MATHIEU

 

(18 VIEWS)

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