Welcome to an information sharing platform that seeks to provide insightful information, updates and related advocacy initiatives concerning the human rights and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe to interested international organisations, activists, Student Christian Movements, advocacy networks, governments and the general public. The forum is managed by the Zimbabwe Advocacy Office in Geneva a special project of the World Student Christian Federation and Swiss agency FEPA.
A row has broken out over reports that Zimbabwe has been allowed to sell diamonds from its rich Marange mines.
A statement by the current chair of the Kimberley Process - the industry's main certification system - appears to allow exports to resume.
However, the US, the EU and other groups signed up to the process insist that no consensus had been reached at a meeting in Kinshasa.
All Kimberley decisions are supposed to be consensus-based.
As the restless mob milled about, a 26-year-old Zimbabwean immigrant named Farai Kujirichita emerged from one of the narrow passageways that led to the field. He was wearing a carefully pressed, lilac-colored shirt and talking into his cellphone. By then, many people were coming and going; his arrival was nothing remarkable. And yet some men from the crowd confronted him.
“Who are you talking to?” they wanted to know. “Who are you warning?”
Then came a more complicated question. “Where are you from?”
WFDB president Avi Paz has made a strong plea to the Kimberley Process.
The World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) has called on the members of the Kimberley Process (KP) to allow Zimbabwe to export rough diamonds from all diamond mining areas in the country, including Marange.
WFDB has made a plea for the KP members "to resolve their internal disagreements on the issue of rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe, and without any further delay take the essential and courageous decision to allow Zimbabwe to export rough diamonds".
WFDB president Avi Paz said: "The KP, due to the deadlock in its decision-making process and its experts' ensuing indecision to allow rough diamond exports from Zimbabwe to resume, is about to cause irreparable damage throughout the entire to supply pipeline of our industry and trade, and threatens the livelihood of literally millions of people throughout the international diamond and jewellery sector."
He went on to say that by failing to make a decision the KP "bears direct responsibility, not only for the reputational damage done to the diamond and jewellery sector, but also for a significant part of the economic hardship that continues to befall the people of Zimbabwe".
Headded: "While the diamond industry and trade is in a position to contribute to the betterment of many Zimbabwean citizens, the inaction of the KP, its members and its experts is now the major stumbling block toward real progress. In addition, if the KP remains indecisive on ZIM, there is a real danger that the relevance of the KP itself will be at stake."
Despite these strong words, Paz was quick to point out that he had instructed all members of the WFDB to continue to follow the KP's and the WFDB's clear directives not to trade in rough diamonds without the proper KP certification.
Paz said: "The KP members and experts need to come and face reality and resolve the ZIM issue once and for all. I urge them to do so soonest."
The protests that Ms. Williams has organized against the policies of Zimbabwe’s megalomaniac President have landed her behind bars “37 or 38 times, it’s difficult to keep track,” she said with a quick smile during an interview Tuesday at the Ottawa headquarters of Amnesty International.
As the founder of the underground group Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Ms. Williams holds Mr. Mugabe “directly accountable” for the repressive laws and the desperate poverty that mark life in her East African country. “Mugabe is also directly accountable for the violence he perpetrates on the nation,” she said. “He even brags about it. He said, ‘I have degrees in violence.’”
But the 49-year-old activist also fears what could come next.
Mr. Mugabe, who has held power for more than three decades, is 87years old and there are persistent rumours that his health is failing. He has not named a successor. And if that does not happen, “we may have a civil war in Zimbabwe. It’s a reality,” Ms. Williams said. “It frightens me terribly.”
Already there are others within Mr. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party who are positioning themselves to become leader when the job becomes vacant.
“They have these youth that they have propagandized and quite often they are high on drugs and they [the political leaders] will use this youth militia to put fear in the nation,” Ms. Williams said. There are also allegations that a recently discovered diamond field is being used to enhance the military capabilities of the presidential hopefuls.
“It’s warlordism being put in place in case he doesn’t name a successor,” she said. “Then they will have to fight it out to see who wins.”
Gun battles would be waged in the streets of a country already crippled by hunger, poverty and violence, Ms. Williams said.
If that happens, her own grown children and her husband would be safe. They have all moved to Britain. But Ms. Williams refuses to leave the place where she was born.
Despite her numerous arrests, she is in Canada only to deliver a speech to mark Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary and will return to Zimbabwe when the brief visit ends. She credits the work of the international human rights group for the fact that she and her colleagues are still alive.
Ms. Williams is of mixed race – her maternal grandfather was a member of the Irish Republican Army who married an African. Her father was black.
She ran a public-relations company until 2000 when the reforms of Mr. Mugabe removed white farmers from their land. The police harassment that followed made it impossible for her to continue in business. At the same time, repressive laws were being enacted, violence was increasing, and 98 per cent of Zimbabweans could not find jobs.
“So we found like-minded women and we started to consult and discuss what could be done,” she said. “We felt that, as women, if we don’t speak out, if we just sit in our homes crying and doing nothing, life is going to pass us by and it’s going to get worse. We said let’s go out in the street, do something non-violent, do something to hold our government accountable.”
The result has been nine years of peaceful protests – and nine years of arrests and abductions and torture. But the organization now has 80,000 members and is a force to be reckoned with.
There is some hope that the country’s new constitution will bring in the kinds of checks and balances that will make Mr. Mugabe’s successor more accountable, Ms. Williams said.
But there will be a long period of uncertainty until the new president is in place. And if the situation gets worse, Ms. Williams said she will not leave.
“I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else,” she said. “If it descends into civil war, I am there to make it better.”