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British Firms Buy Chiadzwa 'Blood' Diamonds

June 19th, 2010

British and Belgian companies have been buying diamonds from the Chiadzwa fields while their governments claim the gems are "bloody" and Zimbabwe should not be given Kimberley Process Certification to export them see allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: British Firms Buy Chiadzwa Diamonds.

Chiadzwa Diamond Fields (aka Marange Diamond Fields) are located in the Marange region in Mutare West, some 90km southwest of the city of Mutare, on the eastern border with Mozambique. In 2008, troops were sent into the region to remove the informal or illegal miners known as "makorokoza," apparently with machine-gun fire from the ground and air force helicopters and tear-gas and gunfire, according to several human-rights groups. There are also recent reports of mass graves appearing in the nearby countryside and that the troops have begun looting the diamonds for themselves, hence the 'blood' label.

It bemuses me when the governments and the media are surprised when they find out that companies do not seem to take the social responsibility to act in the country’s interests. Why? History is littered with the decisions made in board rooms to ignore the suffering of local and government policy in the interests of money. Take Zimbabwe for example, many companies supported Rhodesia and its minority government but totally ignoring sanctions, a situation repeated in the neighboring South Africa during apartheid . It happens today in many other places like Iraq with governments sometimes looking the other way.

Sometimes the governments themselves fail to take the moral lead, funding and supporting despots all over the world. Are companies expected to display any moral or social conscience? Many large corporations try and convince us that they do have a social and moral side but I think many of us realize that if the financial prize is big enough those responsibilities will be brushed aside. Like people, corporations have their price.

We could question whether some of individuals have moral and social consciences because of the real threat of punishment. If governments want companies to toe the line, then there has to be measures that would hurt, really hurt, those companies that do not comply. Otherwise do not expect companies to pass up profit.

[First published on my NotTheNews blog on specified date]