Zimbabwe’s civil society, which has long been accused by the government of pointing out problems and not coming up with solutions, appears to be changing tack by attempting to fix the issues plaguing the country’s diamond sector.
The government has a hostile relationship with civil society, which it has said is bent on regime change and not on genuinely assisting the people who live in the country.
The African Public Policy and Research Institute is organising a seminar, which is titled Zimbabwe: the Political Economy and Minerals, in Pretoria next week to interrogate issues in Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector.
The seminar will bring together government officials, civil society, business, academics and researchers, as well as representatives from the Kimberley Process, who will debate problems in the mining sector with the aim of bringing a positive influence to Zimbabwe.
After the seminar, the institute will develop policy options and hand these over to the government and civil society for possible adoption.
Controversy has dogged Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector, and there have been allegations that proceeds from the gems have not been submitted to treasury but have found their way to a few connected army chiefs and Zanu-PF officials.
Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister Chris Mushohwe recently complained about rampant corruption and shadowy activities in the diamond mining sector, saying this had disadvantaged ordinary people while a few privileged individuals were reaping the benefits.
Mushohwe said those in areas where diamond discoveries have been made continue to live in abject poverty and called on the media to investigate looting of the stones in the Chiadzwa fields.
Mines and Mining Development Minister Walter Chidhakwa has pledged to bring transparency to the diamond mining sector.
Martin Rupiya, the executive director of the African Public Policy and Research Institute, said the conference will be held in line with the African Union’s Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development programme, which is one of the tools it designed to curb the severity of conflict in Africa, as well as bring about sustained development.
The Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development programme is one programme the AU uses to try to address the challenges facing states emerging from conflict. It stresses the long-term nature of post-conflict reconstruction strategies that are founded by communities and states.
Rupiya said the seminar would examine issues around human security, the consolidation and development of the state, revival of the economy and the elimination of hunger.
It will also examine the European Union’s recent decision to remove sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation, and how this can provide an early entry point for economic revival and stability.
It was not clear if the government would attend the seminar.