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.
Viewing cable 09WINDHOEK85, NAMIBIA: KP CHAIR ON ZIMBABWE’S ILLICIT DIAMONDS
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
FOR EEB (BBROOKS-RUBIN), AF/S (EPELLETREAU AND BWALCH), AND
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2019
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).
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¶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
¶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
¶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.
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¶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.
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¶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