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Rio Tinto lobbied KP to handle Zimbabwe with kid gloves

Rio Tinto, which owns the Murowa Diamond Mine in Zvishavane, lobbied the Namibian-led Kimberley Process team that had been sent to Zimbabwe to investigate human rights abuses, to produce a white-washed account of the violence in the Chiadzwa diamond fields, a cable released by Wikileaks says.

Murowa Diamonds Managing Director Niels Kristensen said Murowa Diamonds had lobbied hard for face time with the KP team.

Rio Tinto was working doggedly to prevent Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Kimberley Process. Along with Murowa, it lobbied the European Union hard and successfully not to follow the United States lead in sanctioning the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.

The companies argued that EU sanctioning of MMCZ or Zimbabwe’s suspension from KP would compel Murowa to close its mine and lead to the mine’s expropriation by the government.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 09HARARE263, KIMBERLEY PROCESS CHAIR GIVES ZIMBABWE KID-GLOVE

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

09HARARE263

2009-03-26 15:51

2011-08-30 01:44

UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO0946

PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0263/01 0851551

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 261551Z MAR 09

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4288

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 0006

RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 2253

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 2729

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 2851

RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0004

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2116

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2472

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 2899

RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0037

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 5338

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0071

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2018

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RUZEHAA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000263

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR B. WALCH

AF/EPS FOR ANN BREITER

EEB FOR BROOKS-RUBIN

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR

STATE PASS TO USAID FOR L.DOBBINS AND J. HARMON

TREASURY FOR D. PETERS

COMMERCE FOR ROBERT TELCHIN

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

ADDIS ABABA FOR ACSS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ETRD PGOV PHUM ASEC EMIN ZI

SUBJECT: KIMBERLEY PROCESS CHAIR GIVES ZIMBABWE KID-GLOVE

TREATMENT

 

——-

Summary

——-

 

1. (SBU) During a short visit, hijacked to some extent by the

marketing might of Rio Tinto’s Murowa Diamonds, Kimberley

Process (KP) Chair Bernard Esau got a white-washed account of

the violence in the disputed Chiadzwa diamond field in late

2008. Esau made conciliatory remarks about the need for SADC

to support Zimbabwe in his parting address. He failed to

challenge the GOZ’s assertion that no deaths had occurred at

the hands of government agents at the site, nor did the KP

team apparently have or seek the opportunity to engage human

rights activists or the registered claimant of a disputed

part of the diamond field. The Namibian Chair’s kid-glove

treatment of Zimbabwe is a disappointment, but not a

surprise. End Summary.

 

——————————————— ——

GOZ Asserts No Human Rights Abuses at Disputed Site

——————————————— ——

 

2. (SBU) Murowa Diamonds Managing Director Niels Kristensen

briefed econoff on March 24, 2009 on the previous week’s

visit by a Kimberley Process team to Zimbabwe. Kristensen

said Murowa Diamonds, a member of the Rio Tinto group of

companies, had lobbied hard for face time with the KP team.

(Note: Rio Tinto is working doggedly to prevent Zimbabwe’s

suspension from the Kimberley Process. Along with Murowa, it

lobbied the EU hard and successfully not to follow the U.S.

lead in sanctioning the Minerals Marketing Corporation of

Zimbabwe (MMCZ). The companies argued that EU sanctioning of

MMCZ or Zimbabwe’s suspension from KP would compel Murowa to

close its mine and lead to the mine’s expropriation by the

GOZ. End Note.)

 

3. (SBU) A Murowa employee who participated in the GOZ’s

planning of the visit reported to Kristensen that the issue

of how to handle questions about violations of human rights

in Chiadzwa had dominated the planning sessions. At one

point a high-level police officer had been brought in to

remind the group of the government line that there had been

no deaths at the hands of government agents in Chiadzwa in

November/December 2008.

 

4. (U) Adhering to that line, Obert Mpofu, the ZANU-PF

Minister of Mines and Mining Development and a Mugabe

loyalist, reiterated during the March 25 session of

Parliament that neither the police nor the military had been

responsible for any deaths in Chiadzwa. While Mpofu

acknowledged that a military operation had cleared the area

of panners, he denied that violence had been used. The MDC

half of Parliament responded that his argument was ludicrous

Qhalf of Parliament responded that his argument was ludicrous

as both the independent press and NGO groups have reported

that the police and military were behind the deaths of

several hundred panners.

 

 

HARARE 00000263 002 OF 003

 

 

——————————

Murowa Diamonds-Sponsored Tour

——————————

 

5. (SBU) Murowa flew the 5-person team, consisting of Chair

Bernard Esau, three other Namibians, and a South African, to

its mine in the company’s corporate jet for a tour on March

17, 2009. From there, it flew the team to Mutare for vehicle

transfer by officials of the Zimbabwe Minerals Development

Corporation (ZMDC) to Marange to see the diamond field.

(Note: The GOZ has given the parastatal ZMDC responsibility

for development of the site. The ZMDC is a specially

designated national, i.e. a USG-sanctioned entity. End Note)

The ZMDC did not permit two accompanying Murowa employees to

join the group. However, the plane was grounded by bad

weather and the KP team spent the night in a Mutare hotel at

Murowa Diamond expense. The KP team told the Murowa

employees that the only diamond operation they had seen was

hand panning of diamonds in a shed, with some older

earthmoving equipment parked in the vicinity. Along the same

line, soldiers at the Mutare airport had told the Murowa

employees during their long wait for the KP team that the

military clampdown in the area had ended the diamond paning

and trading frenzy.

 

6. (SBU) Kristensen said that the team had an appointment

with President Mugabe on March 18 and had also visited the

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), where it was shown a carry-on

suitcase-sized box of rough Marange diamonds of indeterminate

value. Esau had posed the question why diamonds were being

stored at the RBZ, but did not get a satisfactory reply,

according to Kristensen.

 

—————————————–

Conciliatory Farewell Remarks by KP Chair

—————————————–

 

7. (SBU) At a GOZ-hosted farewell dinner for the KP team on

March 18th attended by Kristensen, Esau gave a conciliatory

speech in which he stressed SADC’s obligation to help

Zimbabwe address its problems and not “tread” on the country

when it was in need. He also praised the systems,

infrastructure and procedures in place in Zimbabwe for

monitoring the diamond trade, noting that they only needed to

be re-invigorated and followed. Kristensen said Esau did not

challenge the GOZ’s assertion (repeated that evening) that

nobody had been killed by government agents during the

Chiadzwa crackdown. He also said Murowa was not aware of any

discussion about a return visit by a Kimberley Process team

to Zimbabwe.

 

——-

Comment

——-

 

8. (SBU) The KP team apparently never had or sought the

Q8. (SBU) The KP team apparently never had or sought the

opportunity to engage human rights activists or the

 

HARARE 00000263 003 OF 003

 

 

registered owner of a disputed part of the Marange diamond

field during its visit. We are disappointed, but not

surprised, at the Namibian-led KP team’s kid-glove treatment

of Zimbabwe. If the Kimberley Process is to maintain any

international credibility, it must not allow the killings by

government agents and the illicit trade in diamonds from

Zimbabwe to be swept under the carpet under the mantle of

African solidarity.

DHANANI

(39 VIEWS)

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