Belgium, EU at odds over Zimbabwe mining co.
September 06, 2013
Brussels--Reuters reports that Belgium is pushing for the European Union to lift sanctions on the state-run Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp. (ZMDC) despite other countries’ concerns over alleged fraud in the July election that kept President Robert Mugabe in office.
According to the report, the countries that comprise the EU are arguing over how to interpret an agreement its ministers reached in February that said they would lift sanctions on ZMDC, a diamond miner, unless the EU governments unanimously agreed the vote was not “peaceful, transparent and credible.”
While Mugabe, who at 89 is Africa’s oldest leader and has ruled Zimbabwe for 33 years, overwhelmingly won his country’s July 31 election it was denounced as a “huge fraud” by his main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, Reuters reports.
Certain EU nations have serious concerns over the alleged irregularities, including Great Britain, which is reportedly reluctant to see the sanctions lifted.
However, Belgium, home to the diamond-trading hub of Antwerp, argues that because the EU has not outright refused to recognize the election, the sanctions against ZMDC should be lifted.
The ZMDC operates five joint-venture mining operations in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields, producing 8 million carats of diamonds in 2012 and generating $685 million in exports, according to Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper, the Herald.
Concerns over human rights violations, smuggling and violence in the Marange area led to the temporary suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process several years ago. Though the KP eventually voted to reinstate the country, diamonds from Zimbabwe remain under embargo in the United States and therefore cannot be imported into the country.