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Advocacy Groups Call for Transparency from Zim's Mbada Diamonds

Oct 20, 2010 11:53 AM   By Avi Krawitz
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RAPAPORT... The Southern African Resource Watch (SARW), an advocacy group for the region's resource sector, and three members of Chiadzwa community in Marange, Zimbabwe, have petitioned the parent company of Mbada Diamonds to reveal the full extent of its Marange diamond mine operations.

“Diamond mining in Marange remains very murky but New Reclamation Group can clarify many of the key issues and improve transparency in the industry by providing this information,” said Claude Kabemba, executive director of SARW. “Zimbabweans, and particularly those most directly affected, are entitled to know who is benefitting from their mineral wealth – all Zimbabweans or just the military and political elite and some unscrupulous South African corporates.”

The petitioners are seeking to gain access to documents relating to assurances given to Old Mutual, an investor in New Reclamation, to support the claim that New Reclamation’s activities in Zimbabwe are to the benefit of all Zimbabweans and part of a ‘clean-up’ operation of the Marange diamond fields.

In addition, they want proof of compensation paid to communities relocated from the Marange concession area, consultations that allegedly transpired with leaders of affected communities ahead of the commencement of mining operations; environmental and safety checks and assessments that were carried out; and, construction of social projects such as schools and hospitals in the area.

Nicole Fritz, director of the Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), which together with the Open Society Justice Initiative made the petition on behalf of SARW, explained that if New Reclamation does not respond positively to the petition, the parties will consider legal action.

The parties seek answers from the companies by using South Africa’s Promotion of Access to Information Act, which allows for formal requests from private bodies, where the information is required for the enforcement or protection of a right.

“SARW and the three petitioners are seeking the information based on the right of freedom of expression and the right to sustainable development and a healthy environment,” SARW explained.

Fritz stressed that New Reclamation can help end the speculation by providing the information, and by agreeing to be more transparent and accountable in future.

* Picture: Marange Fields. Source: New Reclamation Group website.

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